The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: August 2017

We’re in the heat of summer (at least here in Washington D.C.) as we approach the end of July. So to help everyone cool off (or at least provide a distraction), we’ve pulled another Crocodile Mystery from our vaults. Tell us, if you would, what exactly is going on in this picture below: As always, leave your thoughts and guesses in the comments below, and we’ll be back next week with the answer.… 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


Imagining a lost set of commonplace books

As observed by one of our respondents, last week’s Crocodile was a detail from a blank leaf bisected by a vertical line in graphite, with a column of handwritten letters consisting of the Roman alphabet followed by the Greek alphabet. Folger MS L.f.317, part of the E. Williams watermark collection. Photograph by Heather Wolfe. Slightly better image available upon request. The leaf is from a commonplace book.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: June 2017

Welcome to the end of another month and another Crocodile Mystery. This month’s Crocodile is brought to you by Folger manuscripts! Here’s a detail from a bifolium that is part of a collection of papers described at the item-level in our finding aids. The collection is partly artificial, but the bifolium seems to be connected to other bifolia within the collection, even though their call numbers are not consecutive.… Continue Reading

Okay, but what does it mean, or how do you regularize an early modern transcription?

As one reader guessed, the phrase shown in last week’s Crocodile mystery image is in secretary hand, i.e., a type of handwritten script widely used in the British Isles (and elsewhere in Europe) during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As transcribed in Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) from the upper right corner of a manuscript certificate, the phrase is “Est horse lee.” Ah, of course!… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: May 2017

For the Crocodile Mystery this month, peer into the handwriting of this manuscript and let us know what word or words you see and/or what they mean. Leave your thoughts and guesses as a reply in the Comments section. Check back next week for the answer.… 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

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: April 2017

As March draws to a close, spring has finally (mostly) sprung in Washington DC (we’ll not talk about our poor cherry blossoms). If the days are warming up where you are as well, contemplate this Crocodile Mystery while you enjoy the weather, and tell us what this image is: As always, leave your thoughts and guesses in the comments and we’ll be back next week with the answer.… 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

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