The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

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

The Reformation at Folger

As this year marks the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 theses and along with it, the beginning of the Reformation, a blog post on the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Reformation collection is in order.1 Our collections in this area became prominent in 1977 when the library acquired the books and pamphlets collected by the Swiss writer Emanuel Stickelberger (1884-1962). Stickelberger’s collection contained 850 titles, 516 of which were printed before 1531.… 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

Histories and Communities of Books

A guest post by Megan Heffernan Working in the Folger Shakespeare Library this year has opened my eyes to the important role that research centers play in shaping knowledge. If this sounds like a truism, bear with me for a moment because I want to use this post to think through some of the ways that scholarship is sustained by access to archives.… 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 Yellow Book

Thank you to those who have tried to solve this month’s Crocodile mystery regarding the yellow color of a book, which can be found in the Stickelberger collection of Reformation at the Folger Shakespeare Library (more on this collection in a future Collation post!). While we had many interesting guesses, we still cannot fully explain what caused the coloring of the paper in this book.… Continue Reading

Folger copy 54: From family library to research library

Folger First Folio number 54 traveled over 10,000 miles from Washington D.C., to San Diego California and Honolulu, Hawaii, during our First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare tour, and is on view in our Great Hall through January 22, 2017. But its journey was already in progress long before this traveling exhibit. It had been moved from the Hutchinson family library, at the estate in Owthorpe, in Nottinghamshire, England, where it was since at least the late seventeenth century, to a “very large, apparently foreign made, Chest” by the time Captain Charles Hutchinson inherited it in the nineteenth century, after the estate had been sold out of the family.… Continue Reading

Thomas Nashe and the print shop: looking for clues in the archive

Guest post by Kate De Rycker This past September I spent a month exploring the Folger Shakespeare Library’s unique collection of books by someone who has fascinated me for a long time: the Elizabethan pamphleteer, Thomas Nashe (1567-c.1601). As a writer who experimented with new genres and prose styles, he is hard to categorize. He produced the early novel The Unfortunate Traveller (1594), collaborated on plays with Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare, and made the first overt mention of a dildo in English in his poem The Choice of Valentines (c.1593).… Continue Reading

The Mysterious Case of Folger First Folio 33

Shakespeare’s First Folio has been under the microscope for centuries, studied by historians, students of literature, and actors, as well as by those who are convinced that the works of the Bard are hiding something. As many of you may have discovered through our current exhibition (First Folio! Shakespeare’s American Tour), the histories of the First Folios in our collections can certainly be mysterious.… Continue Reading

Sophisticating the First Folio

This week we will continue our discussion of the First Folios currently on display in the Folger Shakespeare Library exhibition, First Folio! Shakespeare’s American Tour. This post will look at their “sophistication.” A “sophisticated” or made-up book is a defective book that has been perfected with leaves supplied from other copies, or from a pen or printed facsimile. Missing leaves in a book are the most likely motivation for its sophistication although, other explanations exist.… Continue Reading

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