The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: October 2014

What might we say about this month’s crocodile mystery?

October crocodile (click to enlarge)
October crocodile (click to enlarge)

As always, the mystery is not only what this thing actually is, but why it might be of interest. Leave your guesses in the comments below and come back next week for the reveal!

Update October 7, 2014: The reveal is now revealed in “When is an inscription not an inscription?


  • The inscription looks like mid 20th-century handwriting. Is it going too far to guess it the writer was a woman? It must refer to events of the 1600s-1700s? Is The Tempest involved somehow???

    • I don’t know the sex of the writer or date of the inscription in the middle of the page—but I would agree that the writing looks more modern than not. I don’t think The Tempest is involved!

  • Is it an annotation to the 1633 edition of Herbert’s “The Temple,” referring to the section “The Church Militant,” which is about “the progress of religion westward to America”?

    • Maybe also of interest here because of how the goatskin binding affected the paper on the outer edges?

  • “8652” in dark pencil at the top left looks like an accession number or a bookseller’s catalogue number.

    The main inscription looks more 19th century to me.

    “A176” at the bottom right is probably a shelfmark, perhaps in the library of the writer of the main inscription.

    We now need to identify the work which refers to America on pages 184 and 190 .

  • Yes, to both Misha and David! It is indeed written on the flyleaf of Herbert’s The Temple and it does indeed refer to “The Church Militant.” (The catalog record gives the full information about the book and links to the digitization of it.) And to my eye, the various inscriptions look like how David describes them.

    My post next week talk about why I find this leaf—and other ones like it—interesting and worth thinking about.

    • And another tiny piece of chronology:
      the numbers at the top left and bottom right both overlap the turn-in of the binding , suggesting that the pastedown and binding belong to an earlier stage of the book’s ownership.

      • I’ve now looked at the digitisation.
        The page reproduced is not a pastedown; it’s the first free endpaper.
        The marks round the edges are staining from the turn-in of the binding (by Riviere and Sons). The binding therefore is late 19th or early 20th century and the inscriptions must be from the same period, perhaps by Harmsworth’s librarian, perhaps by an early Folger librarian?

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