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

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 →

28 January 2014
by Erin Blake

See the 1960s Royal Shakespeare Company, now at the Folger!

Want to see Patrick Stewart in his mid-20s? How about photos of set design models for Peter Hall’s 1959 Coriolanus, starring Laurence Olivier? Come see the Folger’s newly acquired Gordon Goode Collection of Royal Shakespeare Company photographs.

Two x x 10 glossy photographs

Left: Ian Holm and Estelle Kohler in rehearsal for Romeo and Juliet, 1967. Right: Dorothy Tutin (Rosalind), Patrick Stewart (Duke Senior), John Kane? (Silvius), Michael Williams (Orlando), and ?, in rehearsal for As You Like It, 1967.

Gordon Goode (1931–2008) ran a freelance photography studio in Stratford-upon-Avon between 1958 and 1968, the decade that coincided with the formative years of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Frequently called upon to photograph rehearsals and performances, Goode left behind an archive of approximately 15,000 negatives, plus programs and other publicity material, documenting a significant period in modern Shakespeare performance. Continue Reading →

23 January 2014
by Melanie Dyer

An evolution of cataloging at the Folger, from 1932 to today

Although the Folger Shakespeare Library officially opened on Shakespeare’s birthday in 1932 and readers began arriving at the Library in early 1933, it wasn’t until later that the idea of a proper card catalog for readers’ use was introduced. For the first few years of the library’s existence, staff relied on Mrs. Folger’s handwritten and typed cards created for each item she and Mr. Folger purchased, detailing the author, short title, place and date of publication, and where it was bought. In addition to Mrs. Folger’s cards, the Library’s annotated copy of Pollard and Redgrave’s Short Title Catalogue of English Books, 1475-1640, various incomplete lists, and staff members’ memories were used to determine whether a book was in the Library, and if it was, where to locate it on the shelves.

One of Mrs Folger's original cards cataloging the collection

One of Mrs Folger’s original cards (cf the modern catalog records for this volume)

Continue Reading →

17 January 2014
by Goran Proot

The use of paragraph marks in early 16th-century Flemish editions

(UPDATE January 23: In editing this post, I inadvertently inserted an inaccurate use of “Dutch” as a modifier in the post title; I’ve now updated it to the correct “Flemish”. SW.)

The Folger Shakespeare Library has very strong Continental holdings. The first time I did research in this library, I was pleased to find a number of editions printed by the first “Belgian” printer, Dirk Martens, also known as Thierry or Theodoricus Martens (c. 1447–1534). Martens published his first book in 1473 as the associate of Johannes van Westfalen. During his remarkably long career, spanning more than five decades, Martens moved four times: the first time in 1493 from Aalst, a town about 20 miles west of Brussels, to Antwerp; in 1498 to the university town of Louvain; in 1502 back to Antwerp; and ten years later again to Louvain, where he ceased his activities in 1529. In their 2009 biography of Martens, Renaud Adam and Alexandre Vanautgaerden list 269 extant editions, as well as 32 editions that either have been lost or never existed.

Martens is an important printer in addition to being the first. In 1503, he published a work by Erasmus for the first time; during his rich career, he was responsible for a total of 68 editions authored, translated, or edited by the prince amongst the humanists, including 32 first editions. Erasmus was not the only humanist with whom Martens collaborated. Late in 1516, for instance, he published the editio princeps of Thomas More’s Utopia, edited by Pieter Gillis and proofread by the Louvain professor and poet Gerardus Geldenhauer. And from a typographical point of view, the importance of Martens can hardly be overestimated. He was the first printer in the Southern Netherlands using Greek characters, in 1591 1519, and at the turn of the century, he was the first to start using roman type. In 1518, Martens also introduced Hebrew type, and four years later italics.

The Folger possesses seven books emerging from Martens’s printing shop: one from 1501, two from 1509, one from 1517 and three from (approximately) 1519. The title page of the oldest edition shows a very rudimentary design: four justified lines of roman type of a single size on a furthermore blank page mention nothing other than the authors and titles of the text. The 1509 title page of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Aureae epistolae combines a larger black letter with roman type, all printed in red, and has a large woodcut illustration in the middle, printed in black.  Continue Reading →