The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

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

Investigating a Bull’s Head Watermark

What would draw an eighteenth-century reader to an early sixteenth-century book, written in Latin, on venereal disease? The Folger Shakespeare Library’s copy of Ulrich von Hutten’s book De Guaici medicina et morbo gallico liber unus printed in 1531 by Johann Schöffer in Mainz includes interesting clues to answer such a question. 1531 title page of Ulrich von Hutten’s De Guaici medicina RC201.1 .H8 Cage.… Continue Reading

Signature statements in book cataloging

Today’s post returns to the cliffhanger at the end of Tuesday’s Physical description in book cataloging overview: if [4], CXXII leaves : ill. ; 31 cm (fol.) forms a complete physical description in a library catalog, then what’s up with a4 A-O8 P10 and where does it fit in? a4 A-O8 P10 is an example of a signature statement, sometimes also called a collation (one of the many meanings of “collation” for which this blog is named).… Continue Reading

Physical description in book cataloging

Does a4 A-O8 P10 make perfect sense to you? If so, please read on anyway. This isn’t a post on how to decode a collational formula. It’s a post about what to expect (and what not to expect) in the “physical description” portion of a library catalog record for a book.1 In other words, the part that looks like this in a Hamnet record, taking the record for the 1513 Venetian edition of Macrobius’s Commentaries on the Dream of Scipio as an example:2 Example of a “physical description” in a Hamnet record.… Continue Reading

New STC call numbers for old

The Great Reclassification has begun! As some of you may know, all newly-acquired vault material at the Folger is shelved in the order it was accessioned except for publications that fall within the scope of  A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640 compiled by A.W. Pollard & G.R. Redgrave, better known at the Folger as “STC” (also well-known as “Pollard and Redgrave”).… Continue Reading

Fallen Type

Those of you who replied to the Crocodile post last week guessed right: what you see in this image is a piece of fallen type that was printed by accident over a page of text being printed. The height of the type is approximately 24 millimeters, which is the standard height of type (the zooming on the type makes it appear larger than it really is).… 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

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