The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: June 2018

This month’s Crocodile Mystery illustrates a scene from Shakespeare, but seems more suited to Sir John Suckling: “Why so pale and wan fond lover?” Share your thoughts on why it looks the way it does by leaving a reply in the Comments section.


  • This may be the penultimate state in an engraving process where the printing of the complete image is achieved through several successive states. Here, for some reason, the last block with black and white details of the portrait has not been printed on the background in shades of gray.

  • From Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery. The image is of Lady Macbeth, Act 1, scene V. After a painting by Richard Westall, the engraver was Parker. This appears to be a interim-state proof. The final engraving would have been done all on one copper plate. Our copy of the book says the engravings are “Reduced and Re-Engraved by the Heliotype Process.” Perhaps your crocodile is a proof from this edition.

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