The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: October edition

Once again, given the vagaries of The Collation‘s schedule and upcoming federal holidays, I’m posting the next month’s crocodile mystery at the end of this month. So don’t worry about how quickly the year is flying by: it is still September for a few more days!

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Some of you will immediately recognize what category of object this is, so I invite additional speculations in the comments below about the nature of this object, its details, and what we might learn from studying it. All will be revealed in my post on Monday!


  • As you say, the basic category is pretty easy: an embroidered binding. Normally these things have basic (or elaborate) floral or other decorative patterns, but this one shows David with Goliath’s head on one side, and David with his sling and various creatures on the other. Given that the subject is David, I’m going to wager that we’re dealing with a Psalter, probably the Whole Booke of Psalmes, the Sternhold and Hopkins metrical Psalter. It’s not bound dos-a-dos, or thick enough to have both a New Testament and a Psalter, so I’m going to go with just Psalter. I’m guessing it’s late Jacobean or Caroline, probably 1620s through 40s.

  • Just want to chime in and point out how charming it is that there are butterflies and flowers and sunshine around a guy holding a bloody head by its hair

  • This made me think of other embroidered bindings I’ve seen with religious imagery. I think I’ve seen David and his harp, but not David and his sling. So I went to the British Library’s site, and searched, and found “The Whole Book of the Psalmes” with a very similar David and Goliath embroidered binding (shelfmark c143a10). The date is given as 17th century. The images are similar enough that they might be from the same pattern, which is interesting–I didn’t realize that these sorts of things were created using patterns. Bob, I also enjoyed the butterflies and flowers, but especially the cute little snail.

  • So Aaron takes the prize previously held by John Overholt for fastest on the buzzer, and Michelle nails part of what it is I find about this particular binding.

    More on more details about this particular binding and embroidered bindings in general on Monday!

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