The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: June 2019

Last month’s Crocodile Mystery asked you to name what the images had in common. This month we ask the opposite: what’s different?

How many differences can you spot?

Click the image for a larger view. Much MUCH larger versions of both pictures are available, but we’re only interested in differences that can be spotted at this scale. Please do not attempt to count the leaves (or, if you do, please do not expect Folger staff to verify your count).


  • The one on the left looks more like a drawing or a lithographic print, the one on the right an engraving. The three guys in the background have been omitted from the engraving and the “rescuer” has drawn his sword. The position of the assailant’s sword has been changed. One may have been used as the original copy for the other, and “improved” which would explain the flopping.

  • All of the above, plus:
    The attacker on the left has a small moustache, the girl’s bodice is different (the one on the right has cross lacing) and the second rescuer’s shirt is more free flowing. Also the trees in the left picture seem to have rougher bark, but that may be a result of the printing method or the paper.

  • The swords all had to be changed because otherwise everyone would suddenly have become left-handed, no? And that would have been a real giveaway that the image had been mirrored. But it makes a real difference in the “rescuer’s” gesture, because it makes him look as though he’s attacking rather than simply trying to get the other two to stop pestering the lady. Whoever did the engraving probably didn’t consider this until it was too late.

  • Cut and save A and B as different images, flip horizontally one of them, display them fast one after another and you’ll see plenty of differences. This technique once was widely used in search for comets, planetoids, supernovae on astronomical images (“blink comparing”). I use it to detect details differing states of antique maps. It’s quite efficient. See post on so-called “Hinman collator” in May 2018 Collation.

  • I believe (besides the differences cited by my predecessors) the sketch on the right is deliberately over-darkened so as to create the rubbed down version on the left. The above mentioned adjustments were made, and perhaps the left-hand result served as a sketch for a print or painting. (I spent a great deal of time thinking the right hand result to be the final, but seeing they’re mirror images I decided the left hand side is a rubbed transfer of the right.)

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