The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Heather Wolfe

Scissors inside books?

The rusty outline we showed in last week’s Crocodile post is, as one of our responders, Giles Bergel, correctly guessed, from a pair of scissors. It appears in Folger First Folio number 58, in Henry IV, part 1 (pp. 50-51). This First Folio is currently in the Folger Great Hall, along with nineteen other First Folios, for the exhibition First Folio!Continue Reading

I have sent you a Privy Seal…

The answer to last week’s crocodile mystery? As Jan Kellett correctly pointed out in her comment to the October Crocodile Mystery, the red-orange concentric circles in this image are an “offset mark made by a seal.” The mark was made by the waxy residue and impression from a privy seal which was once enclosed within a letter. Early modern letters often mention things enclosed (another letter, seeds, a lock of hair, a recipe, a poem) but rarely do we see the proof of such an enclosure.… Continue Reading

Shakespeare the player: a new discovery sheds light on two Folger manuscripts

The reference to a coat of arms belonging to “Shakespeare the Player by Garter” in a manuscript at the Folger, V.a.350, has garnered much attention over the years. Folger MS V.a.350 is currently on loan to the British Library for their exhibition Shakespeare in Ten Acts, and Zoe Wilcox, one of the curators, recently highlighted it in “Shakespeare: Gentleman or Player?,” her post on the British Library’s English and Drama blog.… Continue Reading

A Pictorial Table of Contents

Last week’s Crocodile was a jumble of household instruments with numbers next to them. As our first commenter, Katie Will, correctly guessed, the detail was from the table of contents of a type of heraldic manuscript known as an Ordinary. An Ordinary is a collection of heraldic charges—geometric patterns, or depictions of animals, objects, or people—that can appear inside an escutcheon, or heraldic shield.… Continue Reading

Textual variants in Shakespeare’s love letter to Anne Hathaway

When Shakespeare was young and in love, he wrote a gushing letter to his bride-to-be, enclosing with it a lock of his hair and five verses. Or that’s what an audacious teenager in the 1790s would have us all believe. The supposed love letter is the handiwork of forger William Henry Ireland. For those of you new to him, see Arthur Freeman’s account of his identification of the original Ireland forgeries at Harvard, and the Collation post on William Henry Ireland’s forged Shakespeare library by Arnold Hunt and me.… Continue Reading

Purchases from the Robert S. Pirie Collection, Part 3: the manuscripts

In addition to the printed books and embroidered bindings described in last week’s post, the Folger also acquired 26 early modern manuscripts at the Robert S. Pirie sale at Sotheby’s (New York) in early December 2015. They should be arriving at the Folger soon, and we are eager to accession them, catalog them, and get them into the hands of our readers.… Continue Reading

Shakespeare Documented, coming soon

It is almost 2016! For the Folger Shakespeare Library, that means we are about to kick off The Wonder of Will, 400 Years of Shakespeare, and one of the first initiatives we have planned as part of our year-long commemoration is Shakespeare Documented. When it launches in mid-January, it will be the largest and most authoritative resource for learning about primary sources that document the life and career of William Shakespeare.… Continue Reading

Printers and authors in 1659

John Ward’s sixteen notebooks, once they are fully transcribed for EMMO, are going to be an incredibly rich source for nearly everyone who thinks about or studies early modern England. Most people have heard about them because of John Ward’s references to Shakespeare in three volumes: Folger MSS V.a.292, V.a.294, and V.a.295. We’ll be showing one of the Shakespeare references in an upcoming exhibition at the Folger, Shakespeare, Life of an Icon.… Continue Reading

Marginal calculations; or, how old is that book?

I’d like to make a pitch for recording a specific type of manuscript annotation in printed books and manuscripts: the “book age calculation.” These calculations turn up frequently on pastedowns and endleaves, and sometimes right in the middle of texts. They are usually in pencil, but sometimes appear in ink as well, as in this example from last week’s Crocodile.… Continue Reading

Early modern eyebrow interpretation, or what it means to have a unibrow

While showing the Researching the Archive seminar some examples of manuscript receipt books a couple of weeks ago (randomly selected after doing a quick “form/genre” in Hamnet on the genre terms “Medical formularies” and “Cookbooks”), I was tickled to come across a section of Folger MS V.a.438 devoted to physiognomical characteristics; that is, an analysis of physical features of the face and head as they relate to a person’s character. … Continue Reading