7 March 2014
by Goran Proot
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V and U in 17th-century Flemish book imprints

In my last blog post I discussed the use of “V” and “U” in titles on title pages of 17th-century books published in Flanders. For this blog post I surveyed two extra elements which often appear on title pages as well: the place of publication and the name of the printer/publisher as they appear in the imprint. I wondered whether we would see the same trends when it comes to the use of “V” substituting for “U” as we had in titles.

Let us first look at the place of publication in imprints. For this exercise I selected all records in the Short Title Catalogue Flanders (STCV) with exactly one imprint on the title page which includes a year of publication. That resulted in a data set of 9,544 records of works dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. In 992 cases we are dealing with a place of publication featuring either a “u” or a “v”, including instances where a “v” is used in the place of a “u.” The places of publication include Bruges, Brussels, Coutrai (Dutch: Kortrijk), Ipris Flandrorum (Ypres), and Louvain (Dutch: Leuven). An example can explain this: to render the name of Bruges (Brugis, Brugge, Brughe, Brugghe, Brugae, etc.), the compositor could use either a “u” or a “v” and print the name as follows: “Brvgis,” “Brvgge,” “Brvghe,” “Brvgghe,” or “Brvgae.” The first graph below shows how the custom of using “u” or “v” changed during the 17th century.  Continue Reading →

4 March 2014
by Erin Blake
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A print pricked for transfer

So, what’s up with the crocodile mystery for March? As I said in the comments, Tom Reedy was verrrrry close with “It looks like some sort of device using punctures along a line to allow powder or ink to pass through and transfer the outline of a drawing to another surface.” It isn’t itself such a device. Rather, it is evidence of such a device having been made. It is an extreme close-up of the back of an early 17th-century print that was used to create a pin-prick stencil:

Back of a print showing pin-prick outline of a flower

Back of plate 20 of Folger copy of Crispijn van de Passe, Hortus floridus, 1615

Engraving of two carnations

Front of plate 20 from Folger copy of Crispijn van de Passe, Hortus floridus, 1615

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25 February 2014
by Melissa Cook
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Acquiring and adopting books

Each year around this time, the Folger hosts Acquisitions Night benefiting the Library’s Acquisitions program. Showcasing some of the most interesting, beautiful, and rare items we’ve purchased for the collection in the past year, the event invites donors to “adopt” selected items by reimbursing the Library their purchase prices. The money made through adoptions is put back into the Acquisitions budget and used to purchase more rare materials for the remainder of the fiscal year. In addition to a tax deduction, adopters also receive recognition in our online catalog.

Sixty-one items—including some multi-piece art sets, a set of Shakespeare translations, and a range of conservation treatments—will be available for adoption this year. Curators and reference and acquisitions staff focus on selecting items for the event throughout the year. From that initial pool, each person writing descriptions for Acquisitions Night picks approximately 15-20 items for display and we then weed out items deemed too fragile to show or materials that have already been “adopted” by Folger donors seeking a unique gift to commemorate a birthday, retirement, or a gift in memoriam. The only type of acquisitions we do not offer up for adoption are items that are given to us as gifts. We are very lucky to receive donations of rare and modern materials and we may not and do not ask for reimbursement for something we didn’t purchase ourselves. (See Erin’s post from 2012 on the process she works through in making Acq Night selections.) Below I highlight 3 items up for adoption this year and explain the method of their acquisition.  Continue Reading →

21 February 2014
by Heather Wolfe
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Where do family trees come from?

Why is a tree coming out of this dozing man’s belly, you may ask. When I began working on the Folger’s next exhibition, Symbols of honor: Family history and genealogy in Shakespeare’s England (July 1 to October 26, 2014), I wondered the same thing.

Trevelyon Miscellany, Folger MS V.b.232, fol. 57r.

Trevelyon Miscellany (1608), Folger MS V.b.232, fol. 57r: Jesse or Ysai, son of Obeth. Click on image to see full page.

This is Jesse. The text below this image includes a passage from Isaiah (11.1), which Christians interpret as prophetic: “the Virgin shall spring of the roote of Jesse But there shall come a rod forth of the stocke of Ishai, and a graffe shall growe out of his roote.” Jesse, father of King David, was the root from which the ancestors of Christ sprung. The next page in the Trevelyon Miscellany, part of a section on the kings of Israel and of Judah, shows Jesse’s son David, also with a branch springing forth from his body and a roundel with his son Nathan’s name in it.  Continue Reading →

14 February 2014
by Jaime McCurry
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An Introduction to Web Archiving at the Folger

As a resident Digital Archivist at the Folger, I’ve been tasked with the management of Folger web archiving efforts.

The Folger Shakespeare Library web collecting mission.

The Folger Shakespeare Library web collecting mission.

Now, you might be asking: what is web archiving exactly? The International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) defines web archiving as the process of “collecting portions of the World Wide Web, preserving the collections in an archival format [most often via the WARC file format], and then serving the archives for access and use.” There are a number of ways to achieve this: from home-grown technical processes relying on a combination of open-source tools, to a number of vendor options which package popular web collecting and organization methods into one service. No matter the route, the under-the-hood mechanics for the collection process remain virtually the same. Generally, web content is harvested through a process in which “web crawlers” (such as the popular Heritix tool) systematically access and gather content from designated URLs through a process referred to as crawling. The results of these crawls are captures of web content that can then be archived and curated into organized collections. Continue Reading →

11 February 2014
by Sarah Werner
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u/v, i/j, and transcribing other early modern textual oddities

When you’re encountering early modern texts for the first time, you might be surprised not only that they use such variable spelling (heart? hart? harte?) but they seem to use the wrong letters in some places. And then there are funny abbreviations! Even adept readers of early texts might stumble when it comes to making sense of some of this, especially when faced with producing transcriptions. To try to make things a bit simpler, here’s a primer on reading early modern letterforms and an account of The Collation’s house transcription style.

u/v, i/j, s/long-s

Continue Reading →

7 February 2014
by Goran Proot
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V and U in 17th-century Flemish book titles

For many years bibliographers in Flanders have been speculating about the use of “V” in the place of “U” on title pages of early modern hand-press books. For the occasion of this blog post, I decided “TO TAKE VP THE GAVNTLET” in figuring out whether my friend Diederik Lanoye was right when he insisted that “everything happened in the sixties!”

A Latin title page from 1602 (left) and one from 75 years later (right): The former has “V” representing “U” while the latter does not.

A Latin title page from 1602 (left) and one from 75 years later (right): the former has “V” representing “U” while the latter does not.

When it comes to books printed in Flanders, we all agree that title pages from the beginning of the 17th century have a different disposition than those printed a century later. One of the things that change is the use of the uppercase “V” and “U” throughout the title. In the beginning of the century, compositors often put a “V” on the composing stick where modern spelling would expect a “U.” In addition, “W” is often represented by a double “V.” The combination of both habits sometimes leads to, for us, very strange word images, such as “VROVVV” for “vrouw” (woman), or “TROVVV” for “trouw” (faithful, true; fidelity). Of course, this phenomenon does not go by unnoticed, especially when one has to render diplomatic transcriptions of these titles to enter them in an online bibliography. This V-for-U practice slowly fades away and becomes rare by the end of the 17th century. But exactly when does it happen? And why?  Continue Reading →

4 February 2014
by Heather Wolfe
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An example of early modern English writing paper

The crocodile posted on Friday was correctly identified by Philip Allfrey as a watermark of Queen Elizabeth’s arms encircled by the Garter. In his comments, Mr Allfrey provided a useful account of how he identified the watermark and the letter on which it appears. He also went the extra mile and used various Folger databases and the Gravell Watermark Archive to identify the papermaker, John Spilman!

Watermarks are the result of the papermaking process: a wire design is attached to the wire mesh in the bottom part of a paper mold, the pulp then settles more thinly around the thicker wires of the design as it drains, and thus the watermark becomes visible when viewed through transmitted light. Here’s our crocodile watermark:  Continue Reading →