The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Abbie Weinberg

Happy Birthday, Elias Ashmole!

Today is the 400th anniversary of the birth of Elias Ashmole. Perhaps best known today for giving his name (and the founding collection of antiquities and “curiosities”) to the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford, this 17th-century antiquarian had a wide range of interests, including astrology and alchemy. Ashmole’s first appearance in print was due to his interest astrology.1 In 1647, two of his translations appeared in William Lilly’s The Worlds Catastrophe.… Continue Reading

Pietro Mattioli and the Everlasting Woodblocks

Yes, last week’s Crocodile Mystery was a close-up image of a woodblock. This woodblock, in particular: Folger 245- 324f woodblock 1 And in fact, it is the woodblock that was used to print this image: “Lactuca florescens,” a variety of lettuce. (245- 324f, leaf CXXXVI) You can compare this section of the woodblock with the (hand-colored) print that it created: Don’t forget, the woodblock and print will be mirror images of each other.… Continue Reading

Spirit rapping and other things that go bump in the night

This month’s Crocodile Mystery was a bit of a trick, rather than a treat (although hopefully this post will fulfill the treat aspect)—as far as I know, it really is just a fancy, decorated letter A. This is one of those situations where context is everything! It appears at the top of the hand-written cover of the 1864 second edition of A discovery concerning ghosts: with a rap at the “spirit-rappers” by George Cruikshank.… Continue Reading

The Other First Folio

Although many people talk about Shakespeare’s First Folio, we often forget another, perhaps equally important, First Folio that arrived slightly earlier, in 1616. While most of the attention this year has been on the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this other 400th anniversary is also worthy of recognition. In the fall of 1616, The workes of Beniamin Ionson was published in a large, imposing folio volume.… Continue Reading

Faire Europe: Ortelius, Mercator, and the continents

Maps, today, are ubiquitous. We have them in our phones, on our public transit, on walls and signs everywhere you turn. Many people learn to read and interpret them from an early age. Conventions that we don’t even know are conventions guide our understanding of maps. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. For people in the 16th and 17th centuries, geography and cartography were rapidly changing and expanding fields, as European knowledge of other parts of the world grew by leaps and bounds.… Continue Reading

Music Manuscripts

Recently, I have found myself answering a number of reference questions concerning our musical holdings (a reference librarian manifestation of the frequency illusion perhaps?). Whatever the reason, it has been a nice reminder that some of our manuscript holdings contain more than traditional text. The Folger holds a great deal of music in manuscript form. The most complete source for the manuscript music is An Annotated Catalogue of the Music Manuscripts in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C.Continue Reading

In Defense of the Card Catalog

Whenever I am giving a tour of our Reading Rooms, or introducing a new Reader to our collection, I always make it a point to mention that we still have a card catalog room (two, in fact—one primarily for our printed collections, and one primarily for our manuscripts and art collections), which together hold forty separate series of cards. Left, the card catalog room primarily for the manuscript and art collections; right, the card catalog room primarily for the print collections.… Continue Reading

Letter Scraps

Yes, indeed. As several readers astutely figured out, this scrap of paper most likely bears the tail-end of the phrase “Sotheby sale.” As for why it’s in our collection? Well, part of that answer comes with one more piece of information: the handwriting is that of Henry Folger. Several weeks ago, Meaghan wrote about her search for Percy Fitzgerald’s copy of Love’s Sacrifice, and how that led her to a sale catalog from our collection.… Continue Reading

Documents, in microcosm

I have been part of the team that has been working to create Shakespeare Documented, which launched on January 20, 2016. In the last few weeks before launch, one of my main duties became the creation the thumbnail image for many of the nearly 500 items that are showcased on the website. What are thumbnails? In the context of a website, they are small images that represent larger images—sort of a preview, if you will, of what’s on the full image.… Continue Reading

The Secret History (of a publication)

Yes. As our readers quickly reported, this month’s mystery image is the imprint on Procopius’s The secret history of the court of the Emperor Justinian. In fact, it is the imprint of the very first English translation of Procopius’s Secret work. Title page of the first English translation of Procopius’s Secret History The history behind the Secret History is a tale in and of itself.… Continue Reading

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