The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

The mystery of gridded paper

A guest post by Austin Plann Curley For a blank sheet of paper, we thought this one was pretty interesting. But before we get to what exactly it is, let’s refresh our understanding of how paper is made. Prior to the 19th century all paper was made by hand using a mold and a deckle. In the West the papermaker’s mold was a wooden frame with a woven mesh of copper wire.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: June 2015

A new month and a new mystery! What can you tell us about this? What is it and why is it interesting? a mystery to ponder You know the drill: leave us your thoughts in the comments below, and come back next week for the reveal! Update 5/30: A commenter asked about watermarks, so here is an image of the full leaf.… Continue Reading

A Renaissance best-seller of love and action

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s 26 copies of various editions of Lodovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso attest to its success during the 16th and early 17th centuries (a success that continued for much longer, but that is another story). 1 An epic poem replete with love and action, Orlando Furioso was an international bestseller worth having in one’s library even if one did not read it.… Continue Reading

Meet the Hamnet HBCN (“Handy Butt-Cover Note”)

When libraries replaced card catalogs with computer catalogs, researchers lost a crucial piece of information: an at-glance indication of relative trustworthiness. Consider this thin slip of paper from the Folger’s card catalog, for example: Accession-level record from Folger card catalog Looks fairly preliminary, right? That’s because it is. This is an “accession slip” (referred to in some libraries as a “flimsy”).… Continue Reading

“A superfluous luxury”: the St. Dunstan illuminated editions

If you’re a regular user of the internet, you probably saw a multitude of images posted for the Bard’s birthday a few weeks ago. I can almost guarantee, though, that few were as opulent as the contribution from the University of Missouri Libraries Special Collections Tumblr: a beautiful leather-bound set of Shakespeare’s Sonnets with some striking illuminations. On a whim, I did a quick search to see if the Folger also had a copy of this set—and we do!… Continue Reading

Guten Tag! Como vai? Parlez-vous français?

Spring is Conference Season for many academics, allowing us to travel far and wide for our academic and professional enrichment. Sometimes, we find ourselves traveling in places where the local language is not one of the ones we are most comfortable with. (Until someone invents a time machine, my relative fluency in classical Latin isn’t going to help me order dinner, is it?) So what’s a traveling scholar to do?… Continue Reading

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