The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Erin Blake

A print pricked for transfer

So, what’s up with the crocodile mystery for March? As I said in the comments, Tom Reedy was verrrrry close with “It looks like some sort of device using punctures along a line to allow powder or ink to pass through and transfer the outline of a drawing to another surface.” It isn’t itself such a device. Rather, it is evidence of such a device having been made.… Continue Reading

See the 1960s Royal Shakespeare Company, now at the Folger!

Want to see Patrick Stewart in his mid-20s? How about photos of set design models for Peter Hall’s 1959 Coriolanus, starring Laurence Olivier? Come see the Folger’s newly acquired Gordon Goode Collection of Royal Shakespeare Company photographs. Gordon Goode (1931–2008) ran a freelance photography studio in Stratford-upon-Avon between 1958 and 1968, the decade that coincided with the formative years of the Royal Shakespeare Company.… Continue Reading

Happy New Year’s “E”

Perpetual calendars in the early modern period relied on knowing a given year’s “dominical letter” or  “Sunday letter”—the letter corresponding to the date of the first Sunday in January where A=1, B=2, C=3, and so on. This New Year’s Eve, we’re five days away from Sunday, so 2014’s dominical letter is the fifth letter of the alphabet: E. Armed with that knowledge, a quick glance at this William Faithorne engraving tells me, for example, that May 20 is a Tuesday:… Continue Reading

Mr. Folger’s most expensive painting

There’s a persistent rumor that “Mr. Folger never paid more than x for a painting.” The value of x depends on who’s telling the story, but it’s generally around $2,000 and is used as evidence that he wasn’t interested in paintings. The rumor probably began with Mr. Folger himself. When negotiating with dealers, he sometimes allows as how he might consider purchasing the item in question, but it’s really not the sort of thing he usually collects, and in any case, he’s never paid more than some small amount for such a thing… You get the idea.… Continue Reading

Can you spot the differences?

Have a look at the coat of arms worn by Edwin Booth (1833–1893) in the title role of Shakespeare’s King Richard III. Notice something wrong? Hint: The conventions Victorian aesthetics aren’t the same as the conventions of medieval heraldry. Give up? Aesthetic rules call for heavier design elements below lighter ones (hence a pyramid of fleurs-de-lis) and bilateral symmetry (hence sets of lions facing each other).… Continue Reading

Picture cataloging: new rules for old

Ta daaaa! I’m happy to introduce to you Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics)—DCRM(G) for short—the latest publication in a suite of manuals that provides descriptive cataloging rules for primary source materials in special collections libraries. The official announcement will be made by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries jointly with the Library of Congress, but I figure it’s okay to leak the news to Collation readers since I led the editorial team.… Continue Reading

Folger Exhibition Hall, circa 1935

With the Exhibition Hall closed for needed repairs this summer, I got to thinking about the various displays it has held over the years. It’s almost impossible to pick out any specific books or manuscripts in this photo from around 1935, but many of the objects and paintings are recognizable [UPDATE: the photo was taken in 1931, before the library opened]. … Continue Reading

Proof prints, part two; or, Proofs and proofiness

Last month’s post from me (your friendly neighborhood art historian) looked at trial proofs and progressive proofs (see Proof prints, part one). As promised, here’s a look at a third kind of proof in printmaking: proofs that aren’t really “proofs” as such, just “proofy,” to adapt Stephen Colbert’s terminology. Traditionally, a proof is a test impression of some sort, something not meant for sale.… Continue Reading

Proof prints, part one

Last time I posted on The Collation (Two disciplines separated by a common language, 30 April 2013), I went off on a bit of a rant about vocabulary barriers between printed pictures and printed words. Guess what? There’s more! That post mentioned edition, copy, state, impression, and plate, but deliberately omitted the word “proof.” Those other terms all fit the tidy pattern of meaning one thing in one discipline, and something else in the other.… Continue Reading

Two disciplines separated by a common language

I should have seen it coming when the Art History professor and the English professor started talking with each other about “print culture” (names omitted to protect reputations). It soon became clear that one had been talking about the circulation of printed pictures, the other had been talking about the circulation of printed words, and neither wanted to let on that they hadn’t been talking about both all along.… Continue Reading