The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Erin Blake

The key to removing a card catalog rod (literally)

Thanks for all the great guesses at the identity of the December Crocodile! In fact, the mystery object is a tool for removing the rod from a particular type of card catalog drawer (see Folgerpedia‘s Card catalogs article for information about our card catalogs and how to use them). Ironically, Richard M. Waugaman’s tongue-in-cheek proposal that it’s a worn-out corkscrew comes closest to the actual function: this type of card catalog rod is removed by jamming the tool onto the end of the rod and pulling, just like you’d pull a cork from a bottle.… Continue Reading

A “lost” drawing by Ellen Terry

Is it possible to lose something you never had? The other day I managed to “lose” a 1905 sketch of a theater interior by actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928). I had caught a glimpse of it when sorting through a small group of recently acquired letters, and was looking forward to having a closer look later. As far as I could tell in a glance, it was either a rough sketch looking out from the stage, like this 1768 engraving of the Amsterdam Schouwburg by Simon Fokke (1712-1784): …or it was a rough sketch looking towards the stage, like Simon Fokke’s companion engraving of the same theater: I didn’t want to interrupt my sorting, though, so anticipation about the mystery theater kept building.… Continue Reading

Proof print from the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery

As a couple of you guessed correctly last week, the June Crocodile Mystery is a proof for the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery print of Lady Macbeth illustrating Macbeth, act 1, scene 5. In the finished state, which was printed from the same plate after additional work was done on it, the background is darker, and figure of Lady Macbeth has been filled in.… Continue Reading

Drawing for photographic reproduction

This month’s crocodile mystery asked what’s going on with the odd-looking painting technique in an original work of art, shown in a detail. Here’s a view of the whole thing:… Continue Reading

Twentieth-century illustration technique revealed in a “snow Globe”

While looking through the Folger collection for snow scenes (it’s that time of year!) I stumbled across this image of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, drawn in the 1960s by C. Walter Hodges: It is one of about 900 items in the “C. Walter Hodges collection of Elizabethan and other theatre drawings” acquired by the Folger between 1986 and 1990. Hodges drew it for the 1968 edition of his book The Globe Restored: A Study of the Elizabethan Theatre, published by Oxford University Press.… Continue Reading

Dryden’s Virgil, Ogilby’s Virgil, and Aeneas’s nose job

First, a confession: this month’s Crocodile Mystery was originally going to pose a question along the lines of “What’s weird about this image?” or “What makes this picture especially interesting?” but I gave up. I couldn’t figure out how to phrase it in a way that wouldn’t, in fact, be saying “Try to guess what crucial piece of information is being deliberately witheld!” The longer I looked at the image, the stranger it appeared, so I figured asking for captions would make an interesting Crocodile Mystery, and you came through!… Continue Reading

I learned to read Secretary Hand!!!! (And so can you)

Ever seen little kids at the swimming pool excitedly shouting “Look what I can do!!!!” after daring to jump off the big-kid diving board? That’s me right now, having just returned from Rare Book School in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I took Heather Wolfe’s week-long paleography class, “The Handwriting & Culture of Early Modern English Manuscripts.” Look what I can do!!!! I can read Secretary Hand!!!!… Continue Reading

A Photographic Facsimile from 1857

The July Crocodile Mystery showed a “detail from a printed play” and asked what’s up with the strangely uneven tone of the page. What’s up is that although the text is printed, it is not printed in ink. It is a severely and unevenly faded photographic print. Here is the full page: Every leaf in this facsimile of a 1617 edition of The famous victories of Henry the fifth is an actual photograph, printed on light-sensitive paper.… Continue Reading

New Vault Material Walks Into a Library…

New staff members (and researchers!) are sometimes surprised to find that on-order and newly received collection materials show up in Hamnet searches. Many special collections libraries keep that information staff-only until the material has arrived, been processed, and sent to the vault. But it doesn’t feel right to us to hide information that might be useful to researchers. Even if you can’t see an item right now because it was only ordered yesterday, you at least know that it exists, and is on its way.… Continue Reading

Manuscripts in libraries: catalog versus finding aid

When searching for manuscripts at the Folger—or pretty much any special collections library—it helps to know that manuscripts often lead a double life. Many exist simultaneously as part of a library, and as part of an archive, and libraries and archives have different ways of collecting, organizing, and describing material. Libraries contain deliberately purchased items, and these items tend to be arranged in a human-devised order (“artificial arrangement” in Information Science jargon).… Continue Reading