The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

First Folios online

Editor’s Note, March 30, 2016: Sarah now is maintaining an up-to-date list of digitized First Folios on her personal site. When you’ve finished reading this post, please head over there to check out the current list. I imagine that you’re all thinking the same thing I’m thinking in the lead-up to April 23rd, Shakespeare’s birthday/deathday: Where can I find a good online facsimile of the First Folio?… Continue Reading

Interleaving history: an illustrated Book of Common Prayer

A guest post by Whitney Anne Trettien In Henry Fielding’s novel Tom Jones, Partridge and his friends go to see a play. As they watch a man light the upper candles of the playhouse, the predictably inane Partridge cries out, “Look, look, madam, the very picture of the man in the end of the common-prayer book before the gunpowder treason service!” The picture Partridge refers to is most likely this— Guy Fawkes —a widely circulated and often reproduced image of Guy Fawkes sneaking toward the House of Lords, matches and lantern in hand.… Continue Reading

Secret histories of books

This month’s crocodile mystery was a bit more challenging than recent ones (perhaps not helped by my cryptic “suitable for April” introduction), but Aaron Pratt guessed the gist of it: the image was a detail of a page printed in black, usually referred to as a mourning page. Here is the full context, with the bit we were looking at taken from the middle of the left-hand page: leaves A3v-A4r of Josua Sylvester’s Lachrymae Lacrymarum (click to enlarge in Luna)… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: April 2013

Is April the cruellest month? If so, here’s a suitably dark crocodile mystery for you to solve: your April crocodile (click to enlarge) What is this and what might we learn from it? Your speculations are welcome in the comments, and the answer will appear later this week! UPDATE (10 April): Read the comments below for some thoughts that have been bandied about and some clues on what it might be.… Continue Reading

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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