The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

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

This month’s Crocodile Mystery is about an inventory of typefaces found in a printshop. Can anyone guess in what type of printing business they would have been used?

As always, leave your guesses and thoughts in the comments below, and we’ll be back next week with the answer.


  • “Line” usually refers to larger type sizes. The “12 line Roman & Italic”, for example, is about two inches tall, and works most likely be made of wood. A print shop which uses those sizes most likely prints handbills and posters.

  • Very interesting, esp the surface ‘texture’ of the example shown. My first guess would be, given the variety of types & sizes in this particular case, physicians’ eye-chart posters. Most of us, enslaved to the print medium, have had experiences with eye-chart readings; most charts begin with an oversize capital “E”. (And who doesn’t wear glasses these days?) But I also like Jeffrey Meade’s suggestion: handbills & public posters. All best to the Collation community, and do keep us challenged, MEM / 31st July 2018.

  • Hornbooks / copy-books would probably have required large types as well – though I’m not sure whether there were actually print shops that specialised in them.

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