17 June 2014
by Deborah J. Leslie
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Fun in cataloging, or, the mysterious 12mo

On occasion, interesting and unusual aspects of books, manuscripts, and prints catch the attention of the cataloger at work on them. The office of the Cataloging and Metadata Department (located on Deck A right below the Paster Reading Room) is an open area with a large table in the center, which makes it really easy to show each other the cool stuff we come across. Something interesting, unusual, and cool crossed my desk recently, and it seems a shame not to share it with a wider community.

title page of John Newton's Tabulae mathematicae

title page of John Newton’s Tabulae mathematicae

John Newton’s Tabulae Mathematicae, or, Tables of the Naturall Sines, Tangents and Secants, published in 1654, offers up exactly what the title promises: hundreds and hundreds of pages of dense numbers in tabular form. Tucked in among its 452 unnumbered pages is a folded leaf containing (wait for it … ) a table. So far, nothing unusual.

Now we’re getting to the fun part. When the folded leaf is unfolded, we see a lot of wasted space, in stark contrast to the compact printing everywhere else.  Continue Reading →

12 June 2014
by Erin Blake
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Hidden notes, “bibliographic nightmares,” and STC call numbers

Sometimes when keyword searching Hamnet, the results include mystery matches: when you Ctrl-V to find the word you’re looking for on the page, it’s not there. That’s because some fields only display on the “MARC view” tab. Usually the information isn’t worth making public. For example, what displays as:

Five-line description of specific copy of a book.

is served up by this underlying Machine Readable Cataloging, or MARC: Picture of text that reads: 852	 0_ |b DeckC-Rare |h PR2805 |i 1820b Sh.Col. |j cs790 |x CMS 20101102 |z In plain paper wrappers. Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Folger.

The only hidden piece of information is “CMS 20101102″ – the initials of the cataloger who created the record and the date the record was finished.

Sometimes, though, information in a non-public note seems worth bringing to light. When keyword searching for “fingerprints” the other day, the results included the Hamnet record for Folger call number STC 22459b.2 for no apparent reason. That’s because “fingerprints” only appears in a non-public note, which can be revealed by clicking the MARC view tab:

An exceptionally difficult item to classify bibliographically; see "The Library", ser. 5, vol. 1 (Sept. 1946), p. 113-26. There are, broadly speaking, three settings of the work. The fingerprints provided in STC 22458.5-22459b, based on this article, fail to give a meaningful sorting by these settings, and further subdivision (by imposition, &c.) is frustrated by the mixture of states exhibited by each forme from copy to copy.

If the information wasn’t meant for public viewing, who was it meant for? Answer: staff of the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC). It’s in the 509 field, which Folger ESTC catalogers used in the late 1990s and early 2000s to send messages back and forth to ESTC Headquarters. Sometimes entire conversations about an item take place in the 509. Continue Reading →

10 June 2014
by Sarah Werner
4 Comments

Four states of Shakespeare: the Droeshout portrait

So the mysterious eye of this month’s crocodile belongs to no other than Shakespeare, as some readers immediately recognized:

Droeshout's engraving of Shakespeare on the title page of the First Folio

Droeshout’s engraving of Shakespeare on the title page of the First Folio

More specifically, it is Shakespeare’s left right eye as depicted in the third state of the Droeshout engraving from one of the Folger’s copies of the First Folio. If you’re wondering why I chose his eye as the June crocodile, that previous sentence is key: the portrait of Shakespeare engraved by Martin Droeshout for the First Folio exists in 4 different states, 3 of which can be seen in copies of the First Folio (the fourth state wasn’t introduced until the Fourth Folio in 1685).

The first thing to remember in understanding this series of images is that copper plates can be altered, even in mid-production, so that changes can be introduced to an image. (To refresh your understanding of how engravings and etchings are made and how long copper plates can be used, read these posts from Erin Blake.) So it was possible for Martin Droeshout to introduce the following change from the first state of his Shakespeare portrait to the second:  Continue Reading →

29 May 2014
by Goran Proot
3 Comments

Steady sellers

Recently, Jan van de Kamp, a scholar from the Netherlands, contacted me with the question of whether I knew a method to extract all religious steady sellers from the Short Title Catalogue, Netherlands (STCN). He would like to use that information to prepare a contribution to the Brill Companion to Dutch Protestant Piety, 1480–1820, in which Jan will discuss the production of edifying literature published in the Netherlands in the period 1570–1820.

When I hear the term “steady seller,” I immediately think of the work De imitatione Christi by late 14th-century Augustinian monk Thomas à Kempis, which by all means was the steady seller of all times. De imitatione Christi has been printed over and again, and the work is still available today—including as an edition for smart phones. And indeed, there are over 140 editions of this work listed in the STCN, the online bibliography of pre-1801 hand-press books published in Dutch or in the Netherlands. Of that list, 79 editions were produced in the north (the present-day Netherlands) and 57 in the south (present-day Flanders). In addition, six editions bear a so-called fictitious Flemish address, but were in fact produced in the protestant north. This is exactly the kind of work Jan is interested in: religious or devotional books with a long publishing history. Continue Reading →

22 May 2014
by Rhea DeStefano
4 Comments

Making a Karibari board

In conservation, the drying or humidification of paper poses particular challenges when dimensional and visual characteristics of the original paper are to be retained. Because of this, the drying of an artifact is a key step in its treatment. There are a range of paper drying techniques from which the conservator can select and adapt in order to enhance the outcome of each treatment.

The traditional Japanese Karibari board is a type of drying panel that can be used in this process (Karibari in Japanese means temporary mount). The Karibari board controls and slows the drying rate while keeping the artifact under tension on the frame. Paper conservators use their judgment and experience to select the most appropriate drying technique for paper and media applied onto it.

Last January we decided to construct our own Karibari board with the experience of our visiting Conservation Trainee Hsiu-Mei Huang from Taiwan. Over seven days, we selected, cut and pasted Japanese mulberry paper of varying thicknesses onto a wooden panel and allowed each layer to dry for a full day before we proceeded to the next layer. As we began the labor-intensive construction of the Karibari board, we thought it would be interesting to document the process. On the first day local photographer Zacarias Garcia was invited for a visit to the conservation lab, and we soon realized that a video would be the best medium for showing our work. Continue Reading →

20 May 2014
by Erin Blake
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Timon of Athens: nine not-actually-lost drawings by Wyndham Lewis

In 1998, modernist art and literature scholar Paul Edwards wrote about “a set of watercolours and (apparently) ink drawings on the theme of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens” by Wyndham Lewis that had been published as a portfolio in 1913. Why only “apparently” in ink? Until Professor Edwards came across the nine drawings in the Folger’s digital image collection, art historians thought the drawings had been lost. Now he knows that they are definitely ink, and definitely not lost—they’ve simply been kept since the 1920s in a collection where no one thought to look for Vorticist art.

The drawing of a dancing figure, in pen-and-ink with reddish brown wash, is particularly special. Unlike the rest of the set, it was not published in the portfolio (or on the portfolio: two of the designs are printed on the folder itself), so until Professor Edwards found it in the Folger’s online image collection, it wasn’t known to scholars.

Semi-abstract dancing figure

Unpublished drawing by Wyndham Lewis for Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens

Continue Reading →

16 May 2014
by Jaime McCurry
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A digital adieu

The time has come for me to say farewell as my National Digital Stewardship Residency placement at the Folger Shakespeare Library comes to a close later this month. It has been a wonderful nine months working with born-digital assets here at the Folger and I’m thankful to the Library and to you, the Folger’s audience, for your hospitality. To bid you adieu, I’ve revisited the various NDSR Collation posts generated during my tenure and will discuss where you might find more information regarding related digital projects at the Folger in the future: Continue Reading →

13 May 2014
by Heather Wolfe
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Click-clack and crocodile tears: an annotated Elizabethan dictionary

If dictionaries are still on your mind after reading in The Collation and elsewhere about the 1580 copy of John Baret’s Alvearie owned by George Koppelman and Dan Wechsler, then here’s another tri-lingual annotated dictionary to ponder: the intensively-annotated Folger copy of John Higgins’s Huloets dictionarie newelye corrected, amended, set in order and enlarged… by which you may finde the Latin or Frenche, or anye English woorde you will (London, 1572).

Title page of Folger copy of John Higgin's Huloets dictionarie (STC 13941). Click to enlarge

Title page of Folger copy of John Higgins’s Huloets dictionarie (STC 13941). Click to enlarge

The annotations on the title page are hard to make out, but include, at the top, a verse from Virgil’s sixth eclogue, in both Latin and English, exactly as it appears in “To the Reader” in Richard Knolles’s The general history of the Turks (London, 1603). Helpfully, the annotator prefaced the English translation with the word “Knoll.” It’s also findable in the Union First Line Index of English VerseContinue Reading →

8 May 2014
by Goran Proot
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Abbreviations and signatures

As Sjoerd Levelt guessed in the comments, this month’s crocodile image featured an abbreviation, rather than a letter, in the signature mark:

sig. 2[ter]2

sig. 2[ter]2

Here’s a longer look at what this character is and how it ended up being used in the signature.

First, the book in question is a “Book of Summer Sermons” (Santius de Porta, Sermones estiuales de tempore venerabilis Santij porta sacri ordinis predicatorum) printed in Lyon in 1513.  Continue Reading →