The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Exhibitions

The Earliest Recorded Shakespeare in America?

We know that a number of the founding fathers (and mothers) in 18th-century America knew their Shakespeare. John and Abigail Adams frequently quoted from Shakespeare in their letters; Thomas Jefferson recommended reading Shakespeare in a course of private study; and the Folger has a letter dated 1776 from General Charles Lee quoting from Richard III to complain that he is in the dark about the enemy’s intentions and where he should be: “I may be in the North, when as Richard the third says, I should serve my sovereign in the West” (Folger MS Y.c.1374 (1)).… Continue Reading

Building a Replica of the John Wilkes Booth Diary

Guest Post by Folger conservator Austin Plann Curley “You can’t always get what you want.” So said the Rolling Stones in 1969. Such was the case for the Folger Shakespeare Library in our recent request to borrow the Diary of John Wilkes Booth for our current exhibition America’s Shakespeare, which runs through July 24, 2016. Ford’s Theater keeps the diary on permanent display alongside other artifacts from the assassination.… Continue Reading

Documents, in microcosm

I have been part of the team that has been working to create Shakespeare Documented, which launched on January 20, 2016. In the last few weeks before launch, one of my main duties became the creation the thumbnail image for many of the nearly 500 items that are showcased on the website. What are thumbnails? In the context of a website, they are small images that represent larger images—sort of a preview, if you will, of what’s on the full image.… 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 about primary sources that document the life and career of William Shakespeare.… Continue Reading

Constructing volvelles

As Elizabeth Bruxer correctly identified within a few short hours of its posting, this month’s crocodile mystery showed the inner disc of an unconstructed volvelle from a copy of the 1591 edition of Giambattista della Porta’s De furtivis literarum  notis (STC 20118). The key to her identification lay in recognizing the image as being part of a volvelle and guessing that it was connected to ciphers.… Continue Reading

William Dethick and the Shakespeare Grants of Arms

A guest post by Nigel Ramsay For many visitors to the Folger’s Heraldry exhibit, “Symbols of Honor,” the stars will be the three original draft grants on paper of Shakespeare’s coats of arms. These belong to the English heralds’ long-established institution, the College of Arms in London, and they have never before been out of England. the three drafts of the grants of arms to Shakespeare’s father The Shakespeare grants can be seen to be in the hand of the herald William Dethick.… Continue Reading

A peek into the Conservation Lab

Ever wonder what the conservators are up to on our third floor? Here’s a peek into what’s happening in the Werner Gundersheimer Conservation Laboratory this month: The team is in full treatment mode for the Library’s upcoming exhibition, “Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare’s England,” opening this summer. Before every exhibition, of course, the conservation team reviews the items to be displayed to do any necessary work to repair or stabilize them.… Continue Reading

Can you spot the differences?

Have a look at the coat of arms worn by Edwin Booth (1833–1893) in the title role of Shakespeare’s King Richard III. Notice something wrong? Richard III tunic worn by Edwin Booth in the 1870s. Hint: The conventions Victorian aesthetics aren’t the same as the conventions of medieval heraldry. Give up? Aesthetic rules call for heavier design elements below lighter ones (hence a pyramid of fleurs-de-lis) and bilateral symmetry (hence sets of lions facing each other).… Continue Reading

What’s that smell? Getting personal with historic costumes

Here Is a Play Fitted is on view through January 12, 2013 The Folger’s current exhibition, Here Is a Play Fitted, takes a broad look at how Shakespeare on the stage has changed over the past 400 years. For a full look at that topic, you have until January 12, 2014 to see the exhibition—and you should! But for this blog post, I’d like to focus in on one small aspect of this exhibition about staging Shakespeare: costumes.… Continue Reading

Folger Exhibition Hall, circa 1935

With the Exhibition Hall closed for needed repairs this summer, I got to thinking about the various displays it has held over the years. Folger Shakespeare Library Exhibition Hall, circa 1935 (click to enlarge in Luna) It’s almost impossible to pick out any specific books or manuscripts in this photo from around 1935, but many of the objects and paintings are recognizable. … Continue Reading

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