The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Elizabeth DeBold

The Harmsworth Collection

Book collecting is a passion, or as Nicholas Basbanes famously called it, “a gentle madness,” that affects no few people. Henry and Emily Folger were two such bibliophiles, amassing the largest private collection of Shakespeareana in the world. This collection now forms the core of the Folger Shakespeare Library, which as an institution gives shape to their larger vision of making the study, appreciation, and enjoyment of Shakespeare’s works available to all.… Continue Reading

Printed Pamphlets for the Witch of Wapping

During September of last year, while browsing digital resources in the London Metropolitan Archives, a familiar name caught my eye. It was a 1652 indictment from the Middlesex quarter sessions, which tried criminal cases, where a woman named Joan Peterson (or Micholson) was accused of murdering a wealthy older woman through witchcraft. The Folger has an interesting (and heartwrenching) document that I’ve shown before to visitors who are interested in witch trials: the lone such document in a group of letters related to the Lenthall and Warcup families, it appears to be a transfer, or warrant, describing the same woman.… Continue Reading

Slurrop! An ode to soup

In 1595, English writer William Fiston (or Phiston) produced a translation of a French book of manners for children. Topics included proper behavior that was important for Church and school, but also a section on table manners. Here, Fiston admonishes his readers: …beware thou soupe not thy pottage, but eate it leisurely with a spoone, without taking it into thy mouth greedily, forcibly drawing thy breath with it, as some clownes do use, sounding at the receipt of euery spoonefull Slurrop.… Continue Reading

Romeo and…

Thanks for our many eagle-eyed readers and your attention to this month’s Crocodile Post. As several folks guessed, this is a French parody of Romeo and Juliet called Roméo et Paquette, published in 1773. This item is a new acquisition, purchased in 2019 from our colleagues at Antiquariat Inlibris in Vienna. As incredible as it may seem, the first translations of Shakespeare’s plays only began to appear in France in the eighteenth century.… Continue Reading

New Acquisition: Photographs of an early 20th-century production of Hamlet in Japan

Welcome to a new regular series here on The Collation! Curatorial staff will be writing short pieces focusing on new acquisitions, hopefully giving our readers a glimpse into how we’re building our collections. Today, I’m excited to share a small set of photographs documenting a production of Hamlet that was performed in Japan in 1933. We acquired these photographs from Rose Counsell at Hozuki Books, whose apt description provides the basis for this short post.… Continue Reading

Fortune’s Fools: early tarot cards

As several of you guessed last week, this month’s crocodile mystery showed an early tarot card. When treating a copy of a 1673 edition of Vincent Reboul’s “Le Pelerinage de S. Maximin,” Folger conservators discovered two tarot cards used to reinforce its binding.  I came across these cards, which were given their own call numbers and catalog entry when they were removed, some years ago and snapped this photo.… Continue Reading

The Art of the Prompt Book

Most library visitors to the Folger expect us to have books in our collections. Some know that we also have art, manuscripts, and even objects. Yet, any exploration into our collections means that researchers will inevitably encounter an item that could be described as including printed, manuscript, and even artistic content, all in one. Heather Wolfe has eloquently described such “hybrid” materials as “consist[ing] of a mixture of thematically-connected printed, manuscript, and graphic material gathered from a variety of sources into a single binding.”… Continue Reading

Birdbrained

Thanks to everyone who took a guess on this month’s Crocodile Mystery! As several of you pointed out, the teaser image is of some breed of cockatoo or cockatiel. Although I usually know a hawk from a handsaw, I will leave questions about exactly which species or sub-family of Cacatuidae this artistic rendition is meant to represent to experts. The hand-colored print itself is an early- to mid-nineteenth-century lithograph of Act III, sc.… Continue Reading

Announcing the Earle Hyman Collection

Earle Hyman as the Prince of Morocco in a 1953 production of Merchant of Venice Earlier this year, the Folger Shakespeare Library was privileged to receive the Earle Hyman Collection, including many of the actor’s personal papers, photographs, and theatrical ephemera, as a gift from his family and friends. Although we’re closed for renovations, we wanted to highlight this fabulous collection, as well as to recognize Mr.… Continue Reading

“To Madame Sarah”

Sarah Bernhardt is, for many, synonymous with the melodramatic. One of the most well-known and celebrated actresses of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, she was described by contemporaries as “indefatigable;” “an actress without a rival;” and “a queen of art.” Actor Sir Herbert Tree called her, simply, “the greatest woman I have ever known.”  She was so iconic, some referred to her as “the Bernhardt” or “the divine Sarah.”… Continue Reading