The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: May 2016

Here’s a mystery of the Crocodile manner for May. The text shown in this image is one piece of a larger whole, but the question is what is it and how does it relate to the whole?

As always, post your comments and thoughts below. We’ll be back with clarifying information next week.


  • With no further context I’d say it is say 35 pounds, 15 shillings, and no pence. I haven’t the faintest notion about how it relates to the whole unless it is the total price/cost/etc. of the things enumerated above.

  • I have an advantage of being English and remembering old currency. It represents £135 15s 0d, now £135.75. There is no context, but it looks a bit like the bottom of the inventory attached to a will

  • If it is the sum total of an inventory, it would represent a high value for an ordinary man’s estate in the 16th century. I have looked at many inventories for testators at Matlock in Derbyshire and they generally begin with ‘Imprimis – His purse and apparel(l) 10s 0d or some similar small amount with a total at most of £2 or £3. These wills were proved at Lichfield but wealthier ones by the Prerogative Court at Canterbury – especially where the deceased had property in more than one diocese. Is this the inventory of some significant historical figure ?

  • The document is ruled in squares with horizontal and vertical lines. The figures fit into three adjacent squares. This suggests that it is a total written on some sort of (early) financial stationery.

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