The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: December 2022

According to the fine print, The Collation‘s monthly Crocodile Mystery is a “series on identifying objects in our collection” so this mystery object sneaks in on a technicality. It is not part of the Folger collection, but it is in the collection’s physical space.1 What is it called, and what is it for? Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Additional fine print: Folger staff familiar with this object are kindly asked not to give the correct answer in the Comments. Incorrect answers are fine.

Crocodile Mystery

  1. Or at least, it was in the collection’s physical space when this photograph was taken, before the collection went into deep storage for safekeeping during the building renovation project.


  • A skewer holding fasteners to be used with the ribbon/string seen in photo. Together they bind/collect/ save some items in the Folger collection.

  • It is a spindle. Usually with a sharp point that pierces message notes. Looks like you use it to hold the clasps that fasten the straps that go around bunches of papers that need support. Skip

  • Looks like the toggles and tape used for adjusting the snugness of folders, clamshells and the like to store items that we all like to look at.. The spike is good idea to keep those little toggle beasties in order! Also often overlooked is the beautiful FLOOR which is present and ever uncomplaining no matter what loads re put upon it (except for where it might squeak!). The presence of lights show with reflected brightness – that is an ethereal element that if not present makes it hard to read! ~;0)

  • As part of the Folger’s uniquely strict ‘no hoodie’ policy introduced a couple of decades ago, first-time offenders will have their cord-securing thingies cut off and impaled on a spike (informally known as a ‘sprongle’) before being kicked out. At the second offence they are given a choice between lifelong reading room dusting duties and being discreetly sacrificed to the library gods in a back room.
    As you can imagine, the renovation project and lockdowns *really* messed with this time-honoured practice, but hopefully it will be reintroduced the minute the library reopens.

    • Oh dear. It seems that the “no sprongles policy” has been misunderstood. There is, in fact, no restriction on hoodies in the Reading Room. Unfortunately, the original illustration accompanying the ancient prohibition on sprongles failed to clarify that sprongles are ritual fires set by wolves. The wolves in the illustration happen to be wearing hoods, but that is simply because that particular sprongle occurred on a chilly day.

      See the emblem by Pierre Woeiriot on page 58 of Georgette de Montenay, Liure d’armoiries en signe de fraternite. Frankfurt: Jean Charles Unckel, 1619. Folger STC 18044.8

      • Oh no, how embarrassing…:( That’ll teach me to post without having done my research first! *puts up hood to hide her blushes*

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)