The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

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

An unfinished gold-tooled binding

July’s Crocodile mystery asked: why is this binding interesting? There are any number of answers, but the one I had in mind was: it’s unfinished. Last week’s picture shows the front cover of Folger call number STC 13051.3, the 1630 edition of A helpe to memory and discourse: with table-talke, as musicke to a banquet of wine. It’s 14 cm high, bound in dark blue goatskin, and has a strange-looking pattern of gold-tooled flowers and circles.… Continue Reading

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

This month’s mystery could have many different answers, but there’s one in particular we’re looking for. The question is simple: why is this binding interesting? Any ideas? Please share your answers in the comments, and check back next week to find out if any of them match the answer we have in mind.… 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

Investigating a Bull’s Head Watermark

What would draw an eighteenth-century reader to an early sixteenth-century book, written in Latin, on venereal disease? The Folger Shakespeare Library’s copy of Ulrich von Hutten’s book De Guaici medicina et morbo gallico liber unus printed in 1531 by Johann Schöffer in Mainz includes interesting clues to answer such a question. 1531 title page of Ulrich von Hutten’s De Guaici medicina RC201.1 .H8 Cage.… 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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