The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

Scissors inside books?

The rusty outline we showed in last week’s Crocodile post is, as one of our responders, Giles Bergel, correctly guessed, from a pair of scissors. It appears in Folger First Folio number 58, in Henry IV, part 1 (pp. 50-51). This First Folio is currently in the Folger Great Hall, along with nineteen other First Folios, for the exhibition First Folio!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

Ben Jonson’s Library

While last week we brought up the anniversary of Ben Jonson’s first folio and discussed copies of this book that are held at the Folger Shakespeare Library, this week we’ll discuss Jonson’s library and his books at Folger. Jonson is listed in thirteen Hamnet records either as a “former owner” (when his ownership of the book has been confirmed), an “annotator” (when the book includes his annotations), or as an “associated name” (when his ownership is doubtful or has not been proven).… 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

“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

Uncut, unopened, untrimmed, uh-oh

Do you despair when when you hear “decimate” used to describe a reduction of more than ten percent? Does seeing the caption “Big Ben” on a souvenir postcard showing a London clock tower rather than the largest bell within it make you cringe? If so, heed this warning: never use the phrase “uncut leaves” when describing a book. Even though you know that you’re using it with precision, and even though I know that you know, using it at all keeps a confusing phrase in circulation.… Continue Reading

Don Quixote on an Early Paper Cover

The Folger Shakespeare Library recently acquired a copybook with an intriguing pictorial paper cover, and it is, of course, the subject of the crocodile mystery we posted last week. This cover is made of thick paper (thicker than regular paper but thinner than boards) and is decorated with an engraving depicting Don Quixote mounted on his noble steed Rocinante, accompanied by his faithful servant Sancho Panza.… Continue Reading

The Earliest Recorded Shakespeare in America?

We know that a number of the founding fathers (and mothers) in 18th-century America knew their Shakespeare. John and Abigail Adams frequently quoted from Shakespeare in their letters; Thomas Jefferson recommended reading Shakespeare in a course of private study; and the Folger has a letter dated 1776 from General Charles Lee quoting from Richard III to complain that he is in the dark about the enemy’s intentions and where he should be: “I may be in the North, when as Richard the third says, I should serve my sovereign in the West” (Folger MS Y.c.1374 (1)).… Continue Reading

An unfinished gold-tooled binding

July’s Crocodile mystery asked: why is this binding interesting? There are any number of answers, but the one I had in mind was: it’s unfinished. Last week’s picture shows the front cover of Folger call number STC 13051.3, the 1630 edition of A helpe to memory and discourse: with table-talke, as musicke to a banquet of wine. It’s 14 cm high, bound in dark blue goatskin, and has a strange-looking pattern of gold-tooled flowers and circles.… Continue Reading

Page 1 of 1412345...10...Last »