The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Abbie Weinberg

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.1 In 1647, two of his translations appeared in William Lilly’s The Worlds Catastrophe.… Continue Reading

Pietro Mattioli and the Everlasting Woodblocks

Yes, last week’s Crocodile Mystery was a close-up image of a woodblock. This woodblock, in particular: Folger 245- 324f woodblock 1 And in fact, it is the woodblock that was used to print this image: “Lactuca florescens,” a variety of lettuce. (245- 324f, leaf CXXXVI) You can compare this section of the woodblock with the (hand-colored) print that it created: Don’t forget, the woodblock and print will be mirror images of each other.… Continue Reading

Spirit rapping and other things that go bump in the night

This month’s Crocodile Mystery was a bit of a trick, rather than a treat (although hopefully this post will fulfill the treat aspect)—as far as I know, it really is just a fancy, decorated letter A. This is one of those situations where context is everything! It appears at the top of the hand-written cover of the 1864 second edition of A discovery concerning ghosts: with a rap at the “spirit-rappers” by George Cruikshank.… Continue Reading

The Other First Folio

Although many people talk about Shakespeare’s First Folio, we often forget another, perhaps equally important, First Folio that arrived slightly earlier, in 1616. While most of the attention this year has been on the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this other 400th anniversary is also worthy of recognition. In the fall of 1616, The workes of Beniamin Ionson was published in a large, imposing folio volume.… Continue Reading

Faire Europe: Ortelius, Mercator, and the continents

Maps, today, are ubiquitous. We have them in our phones, on our public transit, on walls and signs everywhere you turn. Many people learn to read and interpret them from an early age. Conventions that we don’t even know are conventions guide our understanding of maps. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. For people in the 16th and 17th centuries, geography and cartography were rapidly changing and expanding fields, as European knowledge of other parts of the world grew by leaps and bounds.… Continue Reading

Music Manuscripts

Recently, I have found myself answering a number of reference questions concerning our musical holdings (a reference librarian manifestation of the frequency illusion perhaps?). Whatever the reason, it has been a nice reminder that some of our manuscript holdings contain more than traditional text. The Folger holds a great deal of music in manuscript form. The most complete source for the manuscript music is An Annotated Catalogue of the Music Manuscripts in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C.Continue Reading

In Defense of the Card Catalog

Whenever I am giving a tour of our Reading Rooms, or introducing a new Reader to our collection, I always make it a point to mention that we still have a card catalog room (two, in fact—one primarily for our printed collections, and one primarily for our manuscripts and art collections), which together hold forty separate series of cards. Left, the card catalog room primarily for the manuscript and art collections; right, the card catalog room primarily for the print collections.… Continue Reading

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