The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: November 2020

It’s time to puzzle over another Crocodile post! This month try to figure out what the object is—and bonus points to anyone who can guess who the figure might be!

As always, leave your thoughts in the comments below, and we’ll be back next week with more information!


  • Hmm,
    Embossed leather or thick paper… a bookmark perhaps, or part of a commemorative cover for a program or folder? The details are not flat enough to be a printing plate and the markings on it look like a marker of some sort which would stick to paper or leather but not metal (unless someone went at it with a special marking pen or if it is oxidation). If it is metal, is it a commemorative medal, or a part of a tray or flat object – box top? The photo does not show shining spots, so I could stick to the leather or paper guess..

    The person pictured is not Henry Folger, – he had a higher forehead and different hair.. Most of Shakespeare’s portraits are looking to the left, however if someone carved the master that way – the printed or embossed form would look to the right being reversed during the embossing! But, the only thing is that his portraits usually show a high smooth forehead not wrinkled with troubles – so it may not be him. This points to two other candidates:
    George Washington or Thomas Jefferson who though the portraits look left instead of right (ditto for printing reversed), they do share the hair style that this print has and the lower forehead complete with wrinkles. They also have the same straight nose and high collar (only shows a bit of it in the photo). If this is a commemorative bookmark or program cover of some sort stored in this DC library, it could be some illustrious figure of government if it is not some learned author. Being the Folger, it could also be a playwright or actor.. Samuel Johnson was heavier though same hair.. So I am not sure who it is..(obviously!) What we need to know to recognize a face is more detail to identify them – sort of like how things are during this COVID time – masks cover so much of us, hard to tell many things about people these days! Thanks for the guessing/observation game! Now I really do have to get something else done! ha!

  • A detail of an image of a blind panel of Martin Luther from an alum-tawed pigskin bookbinding.
    I imagine that within the architectural arch there is an admonishing angel or devil, but I cannot quite make it out.


  • It’s the central panel of the decorative binding of an edition of Melanchton’s works, showing part of Martin Luther’s head – though I can’t pretend I would have recognised it from this segment alone!

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