The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

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… Continue Reading »



Shakespeare Documented, coming soon

It is almost 2016! For the Folger Shakespeare Library, that means we are about to kick off The Wonder of Will, 400 Years of Shakespeare, and one of the first initiatives we have planned as part of our year-long commemoration is Shakespeare Documented. When it launches in mid-January, it will be the largest and most authoritative resource for learning… 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. The history behind the Secret History is a tale in and of itself. Procopius of… Continue Reading »


“Extravagantly Large Paper”

While working on the exhibition “Age of Lawyers” (currently on view at the Folger Shakespeare Library), I came upon several interesting copies of Thomas Littleton’s Tenures, the first textbook written on English land law. There are five different copies of Littleton’s book printed in London 1588 and 1591 by Richard Totell. The text in all… Continue Reading »


“Beloveed Plays”: A Sammelband of 1680s Quartos & Its Readers

A Guest Post by Claire M. L. Bourne A major fringe benefit of systematically going through so many books (1,300+) at the Folger last year, looking for typographic conventions and experiments, was encountering traces of use and reading that have not been recorded in the copy-specific notes on Hamnet. Of all the books I consulted… Continue Reading »


An Example of Printed Visual Marginalia

The Folger Shakespeare has recently acquired a copy of the 1706 English edition of the travel narrative A New Voyage to the North… (Folger 269- 090q), written by the French physician Pierre Martin de la Martinière (1637-1676?) and published posthumously around 1700. ((The date is uncertain and does not appear either on the title page… Continue Reading »


A Pin’s Worth: Pins in Books

The object you see tucked in the gathering of the book in this month’s Crocodile Mystery is a pin. Recently, I have become aware of the presence of pins in a number of books at the Folger Shakespeare Library. At one time, curators and conservators removed them from the books and placed them in curatorial… Continue Reading »


Photostats, or, The more things change, the more they stay the same

Five weeks, and seventeen back-and-forth notes and letters. That’s what it took for the Folger Shakespeare Library’s first director, William Slade, to overcome the architects’ doubts that the library really did need a costly No. 4 Photostat machine and that it really was worth the “troublesome and expensive job” of making it fit into a two-room suite designed for a smaller,… Continue Reading »


Marginal calculations; or, how old is that book?

I’d like to make a pitch for recording a specific type of manuscript annotation in printed books and manuscripts: the “book age calculation.” These calculations turn up frequently on pastedowns and endleaves, and sometimes right in the middle of texts. They are usually in pencil, but sometimes appear in ink as well, as in this… Continue Reading »


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