“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: May 2014

Do you see what we see? Or do you see something else? More specifically, can you tell us what the characters are on the last line of this column of text?

What manner of thing is this? (click to embiggen)

What manner of thing is this? (click to embiggen)

Leave your thoughts below, and come back on Thursday to learn more about this image!

Author: The Collation

The Collation is the author used for "crocodile mystery" posts and Q&A posts introducing Folger staff.


  1. Looks like a printed page number, with the ff being the quire identifier and folio #2 (Roman numeral 2). Fairly unusual in an incunable but not unknown.

    • It’s not quite a page number—the location at the bottom right of the leaf is an indication that it’s more likely to be a signature mark. And although the last two letters are the Roman numeral 2, I think if you look closely at the first two characters, you’ll find that they’re not really “f”s. Oh, and the book’s not an incunable, but it might be worth thinking about what the visual cues are that made you think it was!

  2. My guess: it’s a quire signature in a VERY thick book: having ran out of a-z, aa-zz, they continued with standard abbreviation types (here: -tur). What’s the title?

    • You clearly have experience looking at very thick early books! Yes, that’s exactly what it is (although as it turns out, the book isn’t quite as thick as you might expect). This is a 1513 printing of Sermones estiuales de tempore venerabilis Santij Porta sacri ordinis predicatorum (you can see the full catalog record here: http://shakespeare.folger.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=337371). Goran will be sharing more information about this book and this character in his post on Thursday.

      • Please can you tell me what is the first letter of the abbreviated two letter word before ‘dicebat psalmus LIIII at the end of the last line of text ? A transcription of the whole text would tell me whether I have worked out the other abbreviated forms correctly. From the letter forms and abbreviations I too thought at first the text was from an incunable.

  3. My eyes immediately went to “reddit” in the middle of the fifth line up. I’ve been on the Internet too, too long.

  4. I think the first 2 letters are an abbreviation for Totus Tuus (“All yours”)

  5. Goran reveals all in his new post and shares some resources for learning more about Latin abbreviations: http://collation.folger.edu/2014/05/abbreviations-and-signatures/

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