The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Sarah Hovde

How to catalog 100,000 playbills (give or take a few thousand)

You’re probably aware that a significant amount of the Folger’s collection remains uncataloged; the majority of items have at least brief records in our online catalog Hamnet, but even today some collections are accessible only through the card catalog. We don’t like that any more than you do—we want all our materials to easily findable, in one place! However, we have so many materials and only a small staff, and we don’t want to put inaccurate information into the catalog just to have something there.… Continue Reading

The Guild of Women-Binders and the “bindings of tomorrow”

It’s not uncommon for me to encounter small presses, publishers, and binderies with which I’m unfamiliar in the course of my regular work at the Folger. However, few of them have as intriguing a story as the Guild of Women-Binders, which I discovered in our catalog earlier this month. The Guild of Women-Binders was started by Frank Karslake, a London bookseller with ambitious ideas, but little actual experience in bookbinding.… Continue Reading

A promptbook in disguise

It’s time to pull back the curtain on last week’s crocodile mystery: that weird woven material is a close-up photograph of the cover of a promptbook! Both commenters who took a guess last week came pretty close. This particular promptbook was used during an 1838 production of Woman’s wit, or, love’s disguises at the Tremont Theatre in Boston, probably by an actor named Thomas Barry, who performed in New York and Boston during the mid-19th century.… Continue Reading

“A triple badge in Coventry ribbon”

When I retrieved Sh.Misc. 1639 from the shelf, I wasn’t sure what to expect from an item described on the catalog card as “Shakespeare Tercentenary Celebration. Mementoes, tickets, programs…” Many of the components turned out to be fairly common–though no less interesting!—pieces of ephemera such as programs, fundraising letters, performance tickets, and even a train schedule. But one item was a little more exciting.… Continue Reading

“To benefit the suffering Belgians”

As several readers quickly guessed, last week’s crocodile image was a photograph of a Russian edition of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The “ghost” type in the image is due to a glassine (translucent paper) jacket around the volume, which obscures the printed text of the cardboard cover below. This edition was translated by Modest Tchaikovsky (dramatist, librettist, and brother of the Romantic composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky)1, and published in 1914 by I.… Continue Reading

Early Modern Edit-a-Thon

Have you noticed any new articles on Wikipedia lately? An average of 700-800 are added to the English-language Wikipedia each day.1 And recently, some of them were created right here at the Folger. On Friday, May 13th, the Folger held its first official2 edit-a-thon: despite the ominous date and intermittent thunderstorms outside, the Early Modern Edit-a-Thon was a success!… Continue Reading

How to plan a Shakespeare tercentenary

The Folger has a wide assortment of commemorative material relating to Shakespearean celebrations—from David Garrick’s 1769 Shakespeare Jubilee, to tercentaries and quatercentenaries of Shakespeare’s birth (although no materials from the quatercentenary of his death quite yet)—but we hold very few published items that shed light on how those celebrations were organized. Some correspondence of public Shakespeareans touches on celebrations, but is often limited to R.S.V.P.s, after-the-fact congratulations, or incidental mentions (for instance, a letter from Frederick Partington to William Winter referring to “petty revelries“).… Continue Reading

Formal designs

Did you solve last week’s crocodile mystery? It’s a sonnet! A visual representation of the phonetic structures of Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. XXIX, to be precise (rotated sideways to be extra-mysterious). The pattern was created by Marjory Bates Pratt in 1940, as one of her Formal designs for ten Shakespeare sonnets (Sh.Misc. 1128). In Pratt’s own words, “The designs in this book were constructed by means of a method intended to represent visually the basic sound-patterns of poetry.… Continue Reading

Two film studios, alike in dignity…

The Folger owns a variety of printed items related to the cinematic history of Shakespeare—screenplays and manuscript drafts, pressbooks and souvenir programs, and still photographs. Generally, there’s a good chance that we also have the related film recording in some form, but that’s certainly not a guarantee. And in some cases, no other libraries (or private collectors) hold the film recordings either.… Continue Reading

Shakespeare Land

As one reader quickly guessed, the photograph featured in last week’s crocodile post is part of an admission ticket to the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s burial place. This ticket is one window onto the growth of tourism in 19th-century Stratford-upon-Avon, and also highlights the importance of ephemera (printed materials such as tickets, programs, greeting cards, or souvenir stickers that are meant for very temporary use) in the study of history.… Continue Reading

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