The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Tagged: illustrations

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). ((See for example Exercices furieux: à partir de l’édition de l’Orlando furioso De Franceschi (Venise, 1584), ed. Ilaria Andreoli. (Bern: Peter… Continue Reading »


Simran Thadani’s wild guess for the December Crocodile Mystery, backed up by Martin Antonetti and Deborah J. Leslie, is our winner. This month’s image is a close-up of the lower right edge of a mezzotint engraving. The lines that look like warp and weft are, in fact, rows of tiny black dots crossing each other… Continue Reading »

Four states of Shakespeare: the Droeshout portrait

So the mysterious eye of this month’s crocodile belongs to no other than Shakespeare, as some readers immediately recognized: More specifically, it is Shakespeare’s left right eye as depicted in the third state of the Droeshout engraving from one of the Folger’s copies of the First Folio. If you’re wondering why I chose his eye as… Continue Reading »

A practical look at the Practical Science of Printing

In 1723, a Frenchman named Martin-Dominque Fertel published a book on printing, La science pratique de l’imprimerie. It’s good to look at early printing manuals, especially when one is trying to understand how early printing works, so I was delighted to learn that the Folger acquired a copy of the book from the Veatchs in September… Continue Reading »

Two disciplines separated by a common language

I should have seen it coming when the Art History professor and the English professor started talking with each other about “print culture” (names omitted to protect reputations). It soon became clear that one had been talking about the circulation of printed pictures, the other had been talking about the circulation of printed words, and… 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… Continue Reading »

Myth-busting early modern book illustration, part two

The last round of book illustration myth-busting looked at how copper plates wear out (and how they don’t wear out). This time, I’d like to take a bucket of archival research and dump it on a related myth. How many acceptable impressions can you get from an engraved copper plate before it needs reworking? Conventional… Continue Reading »

Colored print or color print?

Consider the following physical description in Hamnet, the Folger’s online catalog (it’s for an edition of Anna Jameson’s Characteristics of women, also published as Shakespeare’s heroines): xl, 340 p., [12] leaves of plates : col. ill. ; 28 cm. The first part translates as “the printed portion of this book consists of 40 pages numbered… Continue Reading »

News of St. Bartholomew’s Day, 1572

When the Swann Auction Gallery catalog for the March 15 sale crossed my desk, I flipped through as usual, looking for things that might fit the Folger’s collection development policy. I wasn’t paying too much attention, since it was primarily a sale of Americana, but a German illustrated news sheet of the St. Bartholomew’s Day… Continue Reading »

Woodcut, engraving, or what?

When a reader needs  to verify the printmaking technique behind an early modern book illustration, I’m always happy to grab my favorite 10x loupe and head up to the Reading Room to have a closer look. By popular request, here are some of the things I look for, and some books and websites that can… Continue Reading »