The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

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

Tell us what you think is going on here! If you have correctly answered a crocodile post in the last 6 months, please consider giving it a couple days for others to have a guess, and no checking Hamnet, either…


  • This looks like a wrapper for a book, made of paper. The title appears to be printed. Perhaps it is
    1. An early dust jacket?
    2. The packaging for the book ‘in sheets’, which has somehow survived?

  • May I guess now?;)
    To me it looks like a sort of flap attached to one of the first pages and folded across the fore-edge of the book (there’s a little bit of binding visible towards the bottom of the image). If that’s what it is, my guess would be that it’s meant to act as a title on the fore-edge so the owner would know which book was which as they were lined up on his bookshelf, with the spine facing towards the back of the shelf. Titles on spines are a relatively recent thing, and before they became popular, people would normally place books so the fore-edge would face outwards (and sometimes even write short versions of the book’s on it). At least that’s what I was taught back when I did my MA.
    If that’s not it, though, I have absolutely no idea.

  • So, I know what’s going on because I called up the book in question. I’ll only say, as we’re waiting for the reveal, that the answer has generated many more questions than I thought possible.

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