The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Abbie Weinberg

Snakes! on a … book?

“What is that?” someone asks, pointing to the corner of one of the books open for display. “This? Oh, it’s a book snake. Most useful object in the library!” I reply. This conversation happens once in nearly every book display I do. People are fascinated by these little objects that are so ubiquitous in a special collection reading room that many of us hardly notice them.… Continue Reading

To bind: Ligatures in Aldine Type

Yes, indeed. As many of you quickly identified, each of the images in this month’s mystery post contain at least one ligature. In fact, all of the images are from a single set of type: the Aldine italic that was used at the press in Venice run by Aldus Manutius in the early part of the 16th century. These ligatures are one of the things that make this italic type so interesting to those studying the history of books and typography.… Continue Reading

Theatrical Bills and Receipts

Folger manuscripts W.b.110 and W.b.111 are an oddly mis-matched pair. W.b.110 is nearly 46cm tall (almost 18 inches, for those playing along at home) and nearly 160 leaves, while W.b.111 is a good 10cm shorter and about a third the length. But both have nearly identical titles in our catalog: “Bills and receipts for the wardrobe, stage properties, writings and printing” (W.b.111 adds that they were “used in productions of Shakespearean and other plays” but the same is true of the contents of W.b.110 as well).… Continue Reading

De Acupunctura: Willem ten Rhijne and Bringing Eastern Medicine to Europe

I am continually in awe of the depth and breadth of knowledge that our readers possess. Y’all are truly excellent. Yes, the answer to the Crocodile Mystery is, as several people answered, a chart of the acupuncture points on the head. Here is a slightly wider shot of this part of the diagram: And here is the diagram in full, showing the points on the back side of the body: This diagram, along with several others, appears in a book written by the Dutch physician Willem ten Rhijne, published in London in 1683 (but more on that in a moment).… Continue Reading

Happy 500th Birthday!

On a recent tour, I was showing a book published in 1518, and mentioned that clearly we were celebrating its 500th birthday by showing it off to a group of very appreciative folks. But that got me thinking—what other books in our collection turn 500 years old this year? 500 is a rather significant number. So let’s take a look at some of the cohort of books in our collection that have been around for half a millenium.… Continue Reading

Portia in Absentia

The guesses on this month’s Crocodile Mystery definitely pointed in the right direction: the mystery image this month is indeed the monogram signature of an artist. But rather than PH, it is PA: Percy Anderson. Anderson (1851-1928) was a well-respected theatrical designer, doing set and costume designs in both London and New York. In London, beginning in 1888, he most frequently worked for Richard D’Oyly Carte at his Savoy Theatre.… Continue Reading

Book Reviews from the Royal Society

Book reviews are a staple of many academic journals. They are a way to learn about new books in the field and to see what your fellow scholars think of them. And they’ve been around for a really long time. In my recent work, I have been searching through the early issues of one of the first scientific journals, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (many of which are freely digitized and searchable by the Royal Society) and I was bemused to discover that book lists and reviews were part of this early journal almost from the get-go.… Continue Reading

News, News, News

How do you get your news today? TV? Radio? Printed newspapers? Online news sites? Social media? Today we seem to be inundated by the news 24/7 and it sometimes takes a conscious effort to step away from the barrage. News consumption habits have changed drastically in the last twenty years. But while the speed at which news reaches us may be at unprecedented levels, the multiplicity of delivery methods for the news is nothing—ahem—new.… Continue Reading

“Whose least part crackt, the whole does fly”: early views on Prince Rupert’s Drops

Honor is like that glassy Bubble That finds Philosophers such trouble, Whose least part crackt, the whole does fly, And Wits are crack’d to find out why. Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part II, Canto II, lines 385-89. In the second part of Samuel Butler’s satirical poem Hudibras, published in 1664, the four lines quoted here reference a phenomenon that has perplexed material scientists for over 350 years, and is only now being fully understood.… Continue Reading

Happy Birthday, Elias Ashmole!

Today is the 400th anniversary of the birth of Elias Ashmole. Perhaps best known today for giving his name (and the founding collection of antiquities and “curiosities”) to the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford, this 17th-century antiquarian had a wide range of interests, including astrology and alchemy. Ashmole’s first appearance in print was due to his interest astrology. In 1647, two of his translations appeared in William Lilly’s The Worlds Catastrophe.… Continue Reading