The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Erin Blake

Happy Retirement, Hamnet!

After over a quarter century of devoted bibliographic service, the time has come to bid farewell to Hamnet, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s first OPAC (“Online Public Access Catalog”). Hamnet officially retires tonight, at the end of the last day of the Folger fiscal year. Earlier Collation posts (on 28 April and 1 June 2022) talk about the new Folger catalog, and you can visit it in person at catalog.folger.edu,… Continue Reading

Different versions of a print, or different states?

When I began working on the March 1 Collation post about watchpapers, I saw right away I’d need to make a correction to the catalog record for Mr. Quin in the character of Sr. John Falstaff. Hamnet gave the publisher’s address as the Golden Buck “opposite Felter Lane.” My dissertation involved close study of mid-18th-century London print publishing, so I know there’s no such address.… Continue Reading

18th-century watchpapers

Thanks for the great guesses about the March 2022 Crocodile Mystery! All were different, all were plausible, and all were incorrect. It would have been easier if I’d included other examples of the same type of print,  because they’re always circular: It also would have been easier if I’d included something for scale, because they’re all between about an inch and a half to two inches in diameter (4 cm to 5 cm).… Continue Reading

George Goodwin, neo-Latin poet, identified as George Goodwin, rector of Moreton, Essex

Today’s Collation post is short and sweet, and courtesy of Heather Wolfe, the Folger’s Curator of Manuscripts. Heather is currently on sabbatical in the UK, having been awarded the 2021–22 Munby Fellowship at Cambridge University Library, but she still occasionally sends gems back to Folger catalogers. This particular gem, and permission to blog about it, arrived just in the nick of time: the post I’d planned to publish today turned out to require material that’s inaccessible during the Folger’s multi-year renovation.… Continue Reading

What’s in a playbill?

The Folger collection includes approximately 250,000 playbills, the single-sheet precursors of today’s multi-page theater programs. By the 1750s, London playbills had developed the standard layout you see in this blog post. They presented an evening’s entertainment as a sort of theatrical equivalent to a modern restaurant posting their daily bill of fare, where a repertoire of various dishes for each course appears in a different combination every night.… Continue Reading

A briefing on brevigraphs, those strange shapes in early printed texts

Most people reading this will know that “&” and “and” mean the same thing. Some will also know that the ampersand’s “&” shape originated from the handwritten word “et” (Latin for “and”). The  “e” and the “t” are combined into a single character, making “&” the best-known example of a brevigraph. Instead of writing out “et cetera” you can simply write “&c.”… Continue Reading

Expurgation with decoration: type ornaments as replacement text

Thanks for the great comments on last week’s Crocodile Mystery. Everyone scores ten points, with full marks going to the two commenters who correctly identified the publication. It is, in fact, a block of nonsense that replaces an expurgated paragraph of text. I wish I could show you the whole page of the Folger copy, but unfortunately, the visual note-to-self shown here is all I’ve got until the Folger re-opens after major renovations.… Continue Reading

Documenting mistakes in our documentation

If someone points out a typo in an online Finding Aid or a Hamnet catalog record, we gratefully say thank-you, fix it, and (usually) move on. Sometimes, though, a big enough mistake has been around for a long enough time that we can’t just move on. We have to take extra steps to find the source of the mistake, and make sure its ghost doesn’t come back to haunt scholarship.… Continue Reading

24,000 “preliminary” catalog records are better than nothing!

At least, we hope the approximately 24,000 “preliminary records” added to the Folger’s online catalog yesterday are better than nothing, which is what Hamnet had for most of these books since going live in 1997. Today’s Collation post explains where this big batch of records came from, and how to navigate their perils and pitfalls if you come across them in your research.… Continue Reading

Using cardboard spacers to fill gaps on the shelf

Sometimes the simplest tools are the best. This post is a tribute to the humble hunk of folded cardboard.1 Cardboard spacer filling the gap on the shelf while two large volumes are in use. All photos are by me, Erin Blake. You know how when you take a book off the shelf, you stare at the empty space for a fraction of a second, waiting to see if the books on either side stay standing-up?… Continue Reading