The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Manuscripts

Princely New Year’s Gift? A Newly-Discovered Manuscript

What better way to greet the New Year than with a ceremony of gift giving among friends and acquaintances? It was certainly a popular way to celebrate at the courts of Elizabeth I and her successor, James I. Gifts came from courtiers and household members of all degrees, beginning with earls and their ladies down to the queen’s apothecary and musicians, as well as poets and others from outside the court seeking favor.… Continue Reading

Looking through the hole in a torn-open letter

Well, I thought the January 2017 Crocodile Mystery was going to be a tricky one, but Misha Teramura not only identified the phenomenon correctly (an endorsement written across the hole created when an early modern letter was torn open at the wax seal), he pinpointed the letter in question: Folger MS L.a.874, a letter from Edward Stafford, 12th Baron Stafford, Stafford Castle, to Walter Bagot and Walter Chetwynd, 6 May 1599. … Continue Reading

A Preview of What the New EMMO Website Will Offer

Manuscripts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are going digital with added features for users! The launch of a beta website for Early Modern Manuscripts Online next month will provide encoded transcriptions to accompany manuscript images and metadata. The number of transcriptions will be limited at first (a few hundred letters), but the EMMO corpus online will grow over time into a broad resource for research on a variety of manuscripts.… 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

A Recipe’s Place is in the Classroom

The Folger Shakespeare Library is many things: an internationally-renowned research library, a museum, a performance space, a center for innovative digital initiatives, and home to some of the best air conditioning on Capitol Hill (not something to be overlooked during our sticky Washington, D.C. summers). But it’s also a classroom, or even many different kinds of classrooms: education is central to the Folger mission, and every year the Folger offers hundreds of programs designed for all kinds of classrooms, from bright, lively elementary-school homerooms to spare, echoing college lecture halls, and from traditional school-houses filled with desks and chalkboards, to pioneering online learning communities populated by students from around the world.… Continue Reading

Honing transcriptions with algorithms and acumen

A question I often hear from paleographers who contribute transcriptions to Early Modern Manuscripts Online (or EMMO) is: What are you going to do with all these transcriptions? It’s a good question—central to the whole project, actually—but it’s also a complicated one. The short answer I usually give goes something like this: We aim to gather multiple independent transcriptions for each digitized page and compare them to create an aggregate transcription which an expert paleographer then checks over for accuracy.… 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

Shakespeare the player: a new discovery sheds light on two Folger manuscripts

The reference to a coat of arms belonging to “Shakespeare the Player by Garter” in a manuscript at the Folger, V.a.350, has garnered much attention over the years. Folger MS V.a.350 is currently on loan to the British Library for their exhibition Shakespeare in Ten Acts, and Zoe Wilcox, one of the curators, recently highlighted it in “Shakespeare: Gentleman or Player?,” her post on the British Library’s English and Drama blog.… Continue Reading

Music Manuscripts

Recently, I have found myself answering a number of reference questions concerning our musical holdings (a reference librarian manifestation of the frequency illusion perhaps?). Whatever the reason, it has been a nice reminder that some of our manuscript holdings contain more than traditional text. The Folger holds a great deal of music in manuscript form. The most complete source for the manuscript music is An Annotated Catalogue of the Music Manuscripts in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C.Continue Reading

A Pictorial Table of Contents

Last week’s Crocodile was a jumble of household instruments with numbers next to them. As our first commenter, Katie Will, correctly guessed, the detail was from the table of contents of a type of heraldic manuscript known as an Ordinary. An Ordinary is a collection of heraldic charges—geometric patterns, or depictions of animals, objects, or people—that can appear inside an escutcheon, or heraldic shield.… Continue Reading

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