The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Elizabeth DeBold

“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

All the Purposes of a Library: a piece of blue ephemera

Thanks to all of you who participated in guessing for this month’s Crocodile Mystery! As some of you noted, it is a book bound in eighteenth-century waste paper, particularly waste paper related to a late eighteenth-century edition of the Cyclopaedia: or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences by Ephraim Chambers. The tricky part is figuring out exactly what kind of waste it is.… Continue Reading

A Wyncoll’s Tale

Let’s face it, every special collections library has at least a few mystery items in the vault that are quietly passed down over the decades from curator to curator (or cataloger to cataloger, or acquisitions librarian to acquisitions librarian). These items exist in a liminal space of low-level awareness and quietly dissipating institutional knowledge, awaiting the elusive day when they can be remembered and identified.… Continue Reading

Stuff in Books: a conundrum

When we think of book history, most of us focus on the creation, dissemination, and reception of texts. But as many scholars have begun to discuss in the last few years, books and manuscripts ended up being used in many different ways unrelated to their status as textual objects. Once we begin to consider what purposes bound books and manuscripts might have served beyond their primary function as sources of knowledge and learning, the list gets long fairly quickly.… Continue Reading

“What’s in a Name?” or, Going Sideways

When, in Act 2 of William Shakespeare’s famous teen suicide play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet muses “[w]hat’s in a name? That which we call a rose / [b]y any other word would smell as sweet,” it’s lucky for her that she isn’t speaking to a librarian. Although her sentiment is poetic, we librarians prefer to be a bit more precise when it comes to terminology.… Continue Reading

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