The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

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

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

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