The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: June 2021

We’re back! Whew!

After a few technical difficulties last month, we return to bring you another Crocodile Mystery. We’ll pause while the wild cheering dies down.

Please consider the image below and tell us, if you can, what’s going on here? What is the person sitting on the basket doing?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below and we’ll be back next week with the answer!

7 Comments


  • The person sitting on the basket (?) is winding thread off a spindle onto a niddy-noddy. One chants “Niddy-noddy, niddy noddy, two heads, one body” to measure one complete circuit of the tool. Unless it’s me doing the work, when complete, there will be a nice, neat circular hank of yarn ready to use or twist up and store.

  • I have no idea about the answer to your question, but I want to know badly! And why is the guy in the doorway waving?! I love this so much! Hope this is something we can share with kids and teachers!

  • This person is winding a hank of yarn they just finished spinning on the drop spindle. By the looks of the person on the right, the seated person is Doing it Wrong and is getting an earful about it.

  • The person on the basket is winding thread/wool off of a drop spindle. I think he’s being chided for his efforts? Or maybe he is a husband that would rather sit and spin and embarrass his wife when her friends come calling. But “Malice”? That brings me back to the woman who appears to be scolding him.

  • I wonder if the sitter is a hunchback (scoliosis?) and this is one of their chores and the Mistress is berating him for something? The woman in the hallway may be trying to interfere in a positive way. Dunno about the “malice”, other than deformities were not viewed kindly. The entire illustration is full of inferences that I can’t read.


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