The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery

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

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: November 2016

Welcome to the November Crocodile Mystery! Take a look at the image below and tell us, if you can, what it is and where it appears in our collection? As always, leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below, and check back next week for a more detailed post! Edit: Photo software seems to be trying to make this mystery even more complicated than it already is; please note that if you click on the image for a larger version, that image is (for some reason I cannot suss out) displaying upside down.… Continue Reading

I have sent you a Privy Seal…

The answer to last week’s crocodile mystery? As Jan Kellett correctly pointed out in her comment to the October Crocodile Mystery, the red-orange concentric circles in this image are an “offset mark made by a seal.” The mark was made by the waxy residue and impression from a privy seal which was once enclosed within a letter. Early modern letters often mention things enclosed (another letter, seeds, a lock of hair, a recipe, a poem) but rarely do we see the proof of such an enclosure.… 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


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

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?” August 2016

As July rapidly draws to a close, we have a pretty new puzzle for readers to ponder. This month’s mystery is about the picture on this paper cover: what is the image about and why is it on this cover? As always, leave your thoughts and guesses in the comments, and we’ll be back next week with the answer.… Continue Reading

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