The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

Black Monday: the Great Solar Eclipse of 1652

In all the excitement of yesterday’s solar eclipse, you may have learned that eclipses are common: most calendar years have four eclipses (two solar and two lunar), with a maximum of seven eclipses (though this is rare).1 What makes a solar eclipse special, at least for some people, is when it takes place at a time and in a place where we are able to experience near or complete totality—when the entire face of the sun is covered by the moon.… Continue Reading

Shakespearian novelties- er, novelettes

I was pretty intrigued when I pulled this case marked “Shakespearian novelties” from the shelf in the Vault… Spine of the case housing four “Shakespearian novelettes” … then I realized that it actually said “Shakespearian novelettes,” and my excitement dimmed a little. Novelizations and other prose adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays (and sometimes even poetry) are not exactly uncommon these days. Narrative stories based on Shakespeare’s plays have abounded since the publication of Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespear in 1807.… Continue Reading

A Photographic Facsimile from 1857

The July Crocodile Mystery showed a “detail from a printed play” and asked what’s up with the strangely uneven tone of the page. What’s up is that although the text is printed, it is not printed in ink. It is a severely and unevenly faded photographic print. Here is the full page: Leaf 18 from James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps’s 1857 photographic facsimile of The famous victories of Henry the fifth.… Continue Reading

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

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