The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Exhibitions

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

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

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

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