The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Re-discovering three-cornered notes

A couple of years ago, when I had Saturday Duty in the Reading Room, a group of early-19th-century letters came across the desk. I noticed right away that one of them had unusual diagonal fold lines: It was a slow Saturday, so I spent some time figuring out how the creases lined up with each other, then folding sheets of scrap paper to match.… Continue Reading

Postcards of the Folger: Midsommer, Romeo and Ivliet, Merchant of Venice

A guest post by Stephen Grant It is my pleasure to show you two early sets of picture postcards of the Folger’s bas-reliefs by John Gregory. On the left you have photographic cards printed on Kodak (AZO) Paper. I’m hoping someone will identify the photographer. On the right you have gravure cards printed by the Meriden Gravure Company of Meriden CT.… Continue Reading

A guided tour of an incunabulum from 1478

A guest post by Sujata Iyengar Typography—the design of individual printed letter-shapes—makes printed books easier to read, and it can also shape our understanding and experience of the text and the content that an individual book contains. At first, early printed books imitated the layout and typography of scribal manuscripts. As this new medium—print—matured, however, printers, and even authors, learned how to use the affordances, or media-specific qualities, of printed sheets in order to indicate what kind of book they were creating, what kind of audience they were seeking, and even what kind of emotion they wished to evoke.… Continue Reading

Thoroughly Modern Helena

What do Robert Browning, Anna Maria Hall, Geraldine Jewsbury, John Ruskin, and Anna Swanwick, have in common? Quite a bit, actually. But in the Folger’s collection, they were the five “recipients” of Helena Faucit’s essays that formed the volume On Some of Shakespeare’s Female Characters. Helena Faucit (Lady Martin, later in life—her husband Theodore Martin was knighted as reward for his biography of Prince Albert, and both were confidants of Queen Victoria) began her London theatrical career in 1836, at the age of 22.… Continue Reading

Birdbrained

Thanks to everyone who took a guess on this month’s Crocodile Mystery! As several of you pointed out, the teaser image is of some breed of cockatoo or cockatiel. Although I usually know a hawk from a handsaw, I will leave questions about exactly which species or sub-family of Cacatuidae this artistic rendition is meant to represent to experts. The hand-colored print itself is an early- to mid-nineteenth-century lithograph of Act III, sc.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: September 2020

Welcome back for another Crocodile post! As you face the new challenges Fall brings to us, take a few moments to breathe out, and take a look at this month’s mystery. What’s going on in this image? Where is it from, and what does it show? Leave your guesses in the comments below and we’ll be back next week with more info!… Continue Reading