October 30, 2014
by The Collation

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: November 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?

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
by Kathleen Lynch
1 Comment

Ohel or Dod? Ideal copies and messy print

When is a repair to a title page more like a clue to a bibliographical puzzle?

An altered title page

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
by Sarah Werner

A carousel of tragedy

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

front cover of Emily Martin’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

2014-10-22 12.38.06

spine of Martin’s book

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October 21, 2014
by Heather Wolfe

19th-century faces in a 16th-century manuscript

A mother and her two daughters unexpectedly greet you when you open the binding of Folger MS V.a.174.

Albumen print of a mother and two daughters affixed to the front pastedown of Folger MS V.a.174, a 1576 manuscript of the Book of Common Prayer.

albumen print of a mother and two daughters affixed to the front pastedown of Folger MS V.a.174, a 1576 manuscript of the Book of Common Prayer

Turn to the back of the volume and there they are again.

This time with the youngest daughter in the middle.

this time with the youngest daughter in the middle

Who are these late-nineteenth-century women, and why is their image affixed in perpetuity to the Elizabethan binding of a 1576 manuscript version of the Book of Common Prayer?  Continue Reading →

October 16, 2014
by Abbie Weinberg

Shorthand and snark: An unexpected journey through Virgil

I joined the Folger just over two months ago, and one of the most delightful things about my new job as the Reference and Outreach Specialist (aside from the fact that I get to work at the Folger!) is that I have time and resources to start digging into my own research again.

I am particularly interested in how classical texts have come forward to us through time. I was inspired by Sarah’s recent post on the Stanhope marginalia, in conjunction with the availability of early printed books in Latin in the Folger’s holdings, to start taking a closer look at the annotations made on such works. I somewhat arbitrarily picked the works of Virgil to investigate first and have been slowly making my way through the various editions in our collection.

When the 1701 Publii Virgilii Maronis Bucolica, Georgica, et Æneis, ad optimorum exemplarium fidem recensita (216– 984f) came up on my list, I didn’t make particular note of it. It was the largest book I’d looked at and the most recent, but I was casting my net as wide as possible, so I didn’t remark on it.  Continue Reading →

October 14, 2014
by Sarah Werner

Finding women in the printing shop

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day that celebrates not only the achievements of Ada Lovelace—the 19th-century mathematician and computing pioneer—but the achievements of all women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths. It’s a chance not only to encourage women to enter STEM fields, but to acknowledge the sometimes forgotten of women’s past achievements in these fields.

For a few years now, those of us interested in the hand-press period have used Ada Lovelace Day as an opportunity to celebrate early women printers. This year, I thought I’d describe an exercise I’ve done with students that not only introduces them to some basic book trade research techniques but surprises them with the appearance of women in those records.

title page of Jocelin's The Mother's Legacie

title page of Elizabeth Jocelin’s The Mothers Legacie, here in its third impression

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October 9, 2014
by Erin Blake
Comments Off

Folger Tooltips: New Hamnet URL and search limit

We’ve recently made two small but significant improvements to Hamnet, the Folger’s online catalog—not enough to be worth a fanfare of “New and improved!” but probably at least worth pointing at while saying “Still old, but less irksome!”

The first change is so obvious you’ll wonder why it took so long: Hamnet’s hostname now matches its name-name. Go to hamnet.folger.edu and you’ll get (surprise!) Hamnet.

Hamnet stable URL with arrow pointing to the word hamnet

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October 7, 2014
by Sarah Werner

When is an inscription not an inscription?

Two folks identified the key elements of this month’s crocodile mystery in their comments: Misha Teramura correctly noted that the inscription in the middle of the page—“pp. 184-190 refer to the progress of religion westward toward America”—refers to George Herbert’s final poem from The Temple, “The Church Militant.” And David Shaw noted that the other inscriptions—“8652″ on the top left and “A176″ on the bottom right—look to be an accession number and a shelf mark.

But let’s back up for one moment to understand why I find these marks interesting. The book in question is a first edition of George Herbert’s The Temple (STC 13183). It’s an interesting work, and a popular one in the 17th century. And as you can see from the notations on the front pastedown and the recto of the first free flyleaf, it’s a work that was prized by later collectors.

The pastedown and first free flyleaf of George Herbert's The Temple (STC 13183)

the pastedown and first free flyleaf

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October 2, 2014
by The Collation

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: October 2014

What might we say about this month’s crocodile mystery?

October crocodile (click to enlarge)

October crocodile (click to enlarge)

As always, the mystery is not only what this thing actually is, but why it might be of interest. Leave your guesses in the comments below and come back next week for the reveal!

Update October 7, 2014: The reveal is now revealed in “When is an inscription not an inscription?

September 25, 2014
by Heather Wolfe

What to eat after a long morning’s work in the Star Chamber

Well, if it’s fish Friday, the menu consisted of… fish! Fish, glorious fish. Thirty or more courses of fish, including oysters, ling, green fish, salt white herring, salt salmon, salmon, great pike, smaller pike, crayfish, roach, great carp, smaller carp, roasting eel, stock fish, chub, tench, chevin, perch, bream, salt eel, loach, flounder, smelt, gurnard, shrimp, whiting, plaice, trout, lamprey, lobster, crab, knobbard, turbot, fresh cod, haddock, barbel!

Here’s a sample menu from a Star Chamber dinner on a so-called fish, or “fasting” day, from Friday, April 30, 1591.

Fish, fish, fish, and more fish.

Dinner on a Friday: fish, fish, fish, and more fish: oysters, ling, salt salmon, green fish, great pikes, smaller pikes, great carps, smaller carps, breams, tenches, great roasting eels, knobbards, perch, trout, flounder, barbels, chevins, chubs, soles, creyfish, plaice, pearls (a variant of brill), gurnards, prawns, lobsters, crabs, mackerel, whitings, fresh salmon and a chine of salmon. As well as herbs, cream, pounded butter, apples for tarts, eggs, oranges and lemons, barberries, rose water, quinces, and other fruit.

Continue Reading →