December 9, 2014
Simran Thadani’s wild guess for the December Crocodile Mystery, backed up by Martin Antonetti and Deborah J. Leslie, is our winner. This month’s image is a close-up of the lower right edge of a mezzotint engraving. The lines that look like warp and weft are, in fact, rows of tiny black dots crossing each other at right angles.
Detail of lower right edge of a mezzotint.
This happens to be a fairly coarse mezzotint, with the grain easily visible to the naked eye. Here’s the full image, which depicts Mary of Modena, consort of King James II, and their baby son. (Or was he their son? Anti-Catholic rumor-mongers called James Francis Edward Stuart “the warming-pan baby,” an impostor allegedly smuggled into the birth room in a warming pan to take the place of a still-born child.) Our crocodile image was a detail of the bottom right portion of the plate, where the image meets the text.
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Peter Schenk (1660–1718 or 19). The young prince of Walles [sic]. Mezzotint, circa 1688. Platemark 249 x 182 mm. Folger ART 230988 (click to enlarge)
December 2, 2014
Another new month, another new crocodile mystery! What manner of thing is this? Please leave wild guesses, informed opinions, witty remarks, and so on, in the Comments section. All will be revealed later this week (or sooner, depending on how the Comments go).
(Click image to enlarge)
UPDATE December 9: All is revealed in “Mezzotint!“
November 25, 2014
In June 1878, the novelist Anthony Trollope and a dozen of his friends boarded the yacht “Mastiff” in Scotland for its maiden voyage, a trip to Iceland. They stayed just over a week, but the episode provided Trollope with enough material for a book, How the ‘Mastiffs’ Went to Iceland. It was published barely two months later by Virtue & Co. of London (and is now available online via the Internet Archive).
Among the company were two brothers: John Burns, the owner of the Mastiff and their host, and James Cleland Burns. It was at John Burns’s request, and with his financial support, that Trollope wrote up and published the account of their journey.
“Mastiffs” title page and frontispiece (screenshot of IA copy)
While the Folger does not have a copy of How the ‘Mastiffs’ Went to Iceland, it does have another book with very strong ties to the Mastiffs. The book below is from our Shakespeare collection. Continue Reading →
November 19, 2014
John Guillim’s partial manuscript draft of A Display of Heraldry (ca. 1610) was featured in our recently closed exhibition, “Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare’s England.” We showed an opening depicting “Fishes skynned” and “Crusted fishes” and compared it to a similar opening in the printed Display of Heraldry (London, 1611).
Examples of suitable fish for coats of arms, both crusted and skinned. Folger MS V.b.171, fols. 79v-80r.
This was a difficult decision, since the fish were competing against so many other completely wonderful monsters, mammals, birds, minerals, plants, trees, fruits, stars, elements, and humors—as well as buildings, clothing, tools, weapons, and other “artificial” charges.
Below are a few of the animals and insects from Guillim’s draft, beginning with a unicorn (which in my household is definitely considered a real animal). Eventually the manuscript will be digitized and transcribed in full and you’ll be able to see and search all images and text.
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“So muche for Goates.” Now to unicorns.
November 13, 2014
One of the best bits of my job as a reference librarian here at the Folger (oh, who am I kidding? They’re all “best bits”) is answering research questions from scholars who are not on site. I really enjoy being someone’s hands and eyes, to look at our collection materials when they cannot. These questions have sent me off in directions I never would have dreamed of; there is no better way to learn a collection than to use it, and I am certainly getting the opportunity to explore the depth and breadth of our collection. Here are a few of the research questions I have been allowed to delve into recently. Many thanks to all of the researchers mentioned herein for their gracious permission to post this!
Henry Wotton’s The Elements of Architecture, 1624
Richard Foster, the Fellows’ Librarian at Winchester College in England, wrote to us asking if someone could take a look at sig. L4v of Wotton’s The Elements of Architecture, since it was noted in the Hamnet record that there were manuscript corrections to the text. Indeed there are, and so I dutifully took a picture and sent it off, not thinking too much of the request—until I got Mr. Foster’s reply. Continue Reading →
November 6, 2014
Following up on last month’s post about the new-and-improved “Limit location” in Hamnet, the one that lets you quickly limit your search to one of four locations, including just Vault material, I thought I should say a few words about the limits of the “Set Limits” feature.
Set limits first
When you go to a Search screen, the system very helpfully puts the cursor in the text box, prompting you to start typing. So, naturally, you start typing search terms, picking options from the drop-downs, and feeling very proud of yourself for knowing just the right combination of And, Or, and Not to get what you want. Then, working from top to bottom, left to right, you see the “Set Limits” link at the lower right, and decide to make your search even more accurate by limiting it to just Vault material, and just French-language material, and just material created between 1550 and 1625, or whatever, so you click “Set Limits.” Continue Reading →
November 4, 2014
The change of pace in this month’s crocodile mystery is thanks to Salvador Dalí. Surely you, like our commenters, recognized those elongated legs. And if I’d shared the companion image, you’d have guessed that immediately as well.
Dalí’s backdrop for the court scenes in Rosalinda
Dalí’s backdrop for Rosalinda‘s forest scenes
But what’s he doing in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s collections? Sharing his designs for As You Like It, obviously!
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October 30, 2014
Perhaps the question for this month’s mystery is less about crocodiles and more about elephants:
What manner of thing is this and what is it doing at the Folger Shakespeare Library?
It’s been a while since we’ve done a mystery along these lines, so enjoy letting your imagination run free: What is this and what’s it doing in the collections of the Folger Shakespeare Library?
As always, leave your comments, questions, and brainstorming below and come back next week for the reveal!
Update (November 4, 2014): All is revealed in “Dalí as you like him“!
October 28, 2014
When is a repair to a title page more like a clue to a bibliographical puzzle?
detail of an altered title page
This question has intrigued me since, some years ago, I first consulted a Folger copy of John Rogers’s 1653 Ohel or Beth-shemesh. A Tabernacle for the Sun: Or Irenicum Evangelicum. An Idea of Church-Discipline, in the Theorick and Practick Parts (135- 312q). The Folger Institute’s recent faculty weekend seminar, “Narratives of Conversion in Reformation Europe, ca. 1550-1700,” co-directed by Simon Ditchfield and Helen Smith, gave me reason to return to the puzzle when, in one session, we were examining relevant Folger holdings. This book was of interest to the seminar for providing one of the first printed collections of Protestant sectarian conversion narratives circulated in English. I use the term “book” loosely, for Ohel is one of my favorite examples of how difficult it can be to establish stable and finite limits for a book. It is hard to know exactly what constitutes Ohel, even though there’s a pretty full body of evidence to consider. Continue Reading →
October 24, 2014
We are used to thinking of productions of Shakespeare’s plays as creating new works of art that demonstrate the vitality of the centuries-old drama. But in the right hands, books can achieve the same effect. Emily Martin’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, published by Naughty Dog Press in 2012 and acquired by the Folger last year (ART Vol. e316), blends together Shakespeare’s play with our lives today and the paper presence of a book with the theatrical drama of the stage.
At first glance, Martin’s book looks just like a book, although looking at the spine suggests that there’s something unusual afoot.
front cover of Emily Martin’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
spine of Martin’s book
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