The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Elizabeth DeBold

Folger collections in times of war

As you guessed, the image from last week’s Crocodile Post is a hand-drawn plan for a vault. This particular one was intended to store the Folger’s rare books during World War II. The hand-drawn plan is the work of Stanley King, the president of Amherst College from 1938-1946. Ever since the death of Henry Folger in 1930, the Folger Shakespeare Library has been under the administrative auspices of Amherst College—Folger’s alma mater.… Continue Reading

Hexed

This month’s crocodile post asked our readers to think about some interesting designs appearing in and on our books. The first, appearing on the covers of Folger STC 11011 copy 2, are two slightly different designs with a central shape made out of six adjoining loops, surrounded by widening concentric circles. The second is a similar design, but lightly traced on the flyleaf in STC 16878 in pencil.… Continue Reading

Under Cover: Forged Bindings on Display at the Folger

Our latest exhibition, Form and Function: the Genius of the Book, provides visitors with a true visual feast. Offering a wide array of different types of bindings from the Folger collections, exhibition attendees will learn about the techniques and materials historically used to cover books and make them functional objects. I’m fascinated by the internal structure of the sewing, but am forced to admit that my favorite part of this exhibition is the decoration on the covers.… Continue Reading

A New Acquisition: from the workshop of the Naval Binder?

But upon the table—oh joy! the tailor gave a shout—there, where he had left plain cuttings of silk—there lay the most beautifullest coat and embroidered satin waistcoat that ever were worn by a Mayor of Gloucester. There were roses and pansies upon the facings of the coat; and the waistcoat was worked with poppies and corn-flowers. Beatrix Potter, The Tailor of Gloucester, 1903 On opening one of our new acquisitions, a bible in a fine Restoration binding, bound with a copy of the Book of Common Prayer and the Whole Book of Psalms, all I could think of was this scene from Beatrix Potter’s Tailor of Gloucester.… Continue Reading

The Case Files

The problem with using IDs in mysteries is we also attempt to make them easy to discover. Elisabeth Chaghafi got it in one: this number belongs to X.d.131 and marks this item as one of Henry and Emily Folger’s original contributions to the Folger’s holdings. This number is known here at the Folger Shakespeare Library as a case number. They were usually written unobtrusively in pencil somewhere on the items bought by the Folgers, during the period when their personal collection was being transformed into our library.… Continue Reading

A Sophisticated Leaf

There were several good guesses about this month’s Crocodile Mystery—a crease in the paper, or an off-center, pre-stamped envelope. But, Elisabeth Chaghafi was right on the money with her guess: this is a leaf that was missing a corner, which someone attempted to render “complete” by cutting and pasting the relevant bit from a different copy. In fact, both the fragment used for repair and the torn leaf have a distinguished lineage: they are both fragments from copies of two 1623 editions of Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.… Continue Reading

Lost at Sea

Shakespeare liked shipwrecks, including one in at least five of his plays. Sea storms and shipwrecks were a convenient way to separate characters or bring them into conflict, as well as stranding them in a strange place. In the “Age of Exploration,” sea voyages became enticingly more possible over time, in spite of the dangers. But although Shakespeare himself never sailed to new lands, his printed words have circled the globe.… Continue Reading

Black Monday: the Great Solar Eclipse of 1652

In all the excitement of yesterday’s solar eclipse, you may have learned that eclipses are common: most calendar years have four eclipses (two solar and two lunar), with a maximum of seven eclipses (though this is rare). What makes a solar eclipse special, at least for some people, is when it takes place at a time and in a place where we are able to experience near or complete totality—when the entire face of the sun is covered by the moon.… Continue Reading

From the Archives: Shakespeare in the USSR

Since (and even before) our founding in 1932, Folger Shakespeare Library staff has come together with a wide variety of arts and humanities organizations to celebrate the powerful nature of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Shakespeare’s works represent a literary place to which many of us turn in times of turmoil, both personal and on a broader stage. His works have been used to support many different viewpoints, and many different types of causes—regardless of what use Shakespeare’s words have been made to serve, we can agree that they are powerful and compelling in the hands of orators and writers.… Continue Reading

The Mysterious Case of Folger First Folio 33

Shakespeare’s First Folio has been under the microscope for centuries, studied by historians, students of literature, and actors, as well as by those who are convinced that the works of the Bard are hiding something. As many of you may have discovered through our current exhibition (First Folio! Shakespeare’s American Tour), the histories of the First Folios in our collections can certainly be mysterious.… Continue Reading