The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Attempting to censor John Donne

A guest post by Daniel Starza Smith The Folger’s unique collection of manuscript letters by John Donne (1572-1631) is rightly recognized as being of international importance. Donne is regarded as one of the foremost intellectual figures of early modern England, a poet of remarkable erotic daring, a keen legal mind who poured his learning into complex tracts on contemporary controversies, and, in later years, the most renowned preacher of his day.… Continue Reading

Fingerspitzengefühl

Just like “Fernweh”—the opposite of “Heimweh” or one’s longing for distant countries—the German word “Fingerspitzengefühl” is almost impossible to translate. Literally it refers to the sensitivity of one’s fingertips and it expresses an accurate knowledge or a delicate feeling that some people have for certain things or situations. It is a conviction which you cannot precisely express, but about which you feel certain.… Continue Reading

Can you spot the differences?

Have a look at the coat of arms worn by Edwin Booth (1833–1893) in the title role of Shakespeare’s King Richard III. Notice something wrong? Richard III tunic worn by Edwin Booth in the 1870s. Hint: The conventions Victorian aesthetics aren’t the same as the conventions of medieval heraldry. Give up? Aesthetic rules call for heavier design elements below lighter ones (hence a pyramid of fleurs-de-lis) and bilateral symmetry (hence sets of lions facing each other).… Continue Reading

“For a cancer in the brest”: early modern recipes

“For a cancer in the brest” The large penstrokes of this title caught my eye as I was cataloging a recently acquired receipt book (a book of culinary and medicinal recipes). In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we provide a window into breast cancer treatment in the 17th century. Here is a full recipe, followed by a modernized transcription: 1 “For a cancer in the brest” For a cancer in the breast Take 3 pounds of new burnt lime, unslacked, and put it to a gallon of spring water and let it stand four days, then pour the water off as clear as may be.… Continue Reading

What’s that smell? Getting personal with historic costumes

Here Is a Play Fitted is on view through January 12, 2013 The Folger’s current exhibition, Here Is a Play Fitted, takes a broad look at how Shakespeare on the stage has changed over the past 400 years. For a full look at that topic, you have until January 12, 2014 to see the exhibition—and you should! But for this blog post, I’d like to focus in on one small aspect of this exhibition about staging Shakespeare: costumes.… Continue Reading

Conserving the Cosway Portrait of Shakespeare

A guest post by Dawn Rogala Editor’s note: Folger conservators are internationally known for their expertise in book and paper conservation. When it comes to conserving paintings, though, we turn to outside experts like Dawn Rogala of Page Conservation, Inc. Here, Dawn explains how she treated the Cosway Portrait of Shakespeare. 1 All photos in this post have been provided by Page Conservation.Continue Reading

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