The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

The mysterious “Sem”

World, meet Sem. Sem, meet the World. Looks thrilled, doesn’t he? Well, you’d be a bit jaded, too, if you’d been hanging around the Folger for over 80 years, waiting for someone to finally notice you. Self portrait of the artist known as “Sem” It all began February 15, with a reference question from a colleague in London, “I am currently researching two volumes of drawings by an artist using the monogram SEM,” wrote Marcus Risdell, the curator at the Garrick Club.… Continue Reading

Filing, seventeenth-century style

When we think of filing today, we think of digital files and folders, and manilla folders, hanging files, and filing cabinets. But what did filing look like in early modern England? How did people deal with all their receipts and bills and letters when they wanted to keep them? What evidence of filing systems still survives?… Continue Reading

Opening Ornamental Initials

During the last couple of months at the Folger, we have come across a number of exceptional ornamental initials in Flemish imprints, as we are processing these systematically together with two interns. 1 These initials can be fascinating to study. For example, look at the beginning of the first book of Lodovico Melzo’s Regole militari […] sopra il governo e servitio della cavalleria, published in Antwerp by Joachim Trognesius in 1611: 2 (Click on any image in this post to enlarge it.) Beginning of Melzo’s military treaty on the cavalry (sig.… Continue Reading

Peeking behind the locked door

Another sede vacante has come and gone. With the wall-to-wall coverage of contemporary media, this one made witnesses of us all. Or at least, the coverage let us witness the events outside the conclave and to share our speculation about what was happening behind the locked doors. For the Folger Institute, the recent happenings in St. Peter’s Square in Rome also sparked fond memories of our NEH Institute on Ritual and Ceremony, Late-Medieval Europe to Early America, directed by Claire Sponsler in 2010.  … Continue Reading

A Perfect Ten

American theater manager and playwright Augustin Daly (1838–1899) had a unique way of commemorating his productions. He collected illustrations, letters, and ephemera connected with the his staging, connected with historic productions of the play, and connected with the story of the play. However, instead of making a scrapbook from what he had gathered, he commissioned a professional inlayer to mount the material in paper “windows” and interleave them with similarly-mounted pages from his production’s printed acting edition.… Continue Reading

The seven ages of man, rendered movingly

In my last post, I described this month’s crocodile mystery as more of a rhetorical device than a question to be answered: what does this box prompt us to imagine what might be? 1 what would this box reveal? And what does it contain? Both a stage and a book. But it’s not just any stage and not just any book.… Continue Reading

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