The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Heather Wolfe

Unwanted doodles in a Shakespeare quarto

Our new curator of early modern books and prints, Caroline Duroselle-Melish, and I were up in the conservation lab a few days ago, consulting with book conservator Adrienne Bell on the optimal opening for safely digitizing a quarto edition of Henry VI, Part 3 (STC 21006a copy 1) in preparation for our “Wonder of Will” commemoration activities next year at the Folger.… Continue Reading

An early modern color guide

As I was answering a reference question yesterday relating to heraldic funeral processions in Folger MS V.a.447—a heraldic miscellany written by John Guillim shortly after he was made Portsmouth Pursuivant of Arms—my eyes snagged on a subsection near the end titled, “The names of all Coloures pertaining to Lymminge.” The list of names immediately made me think of the colors that J.… Continue Reading

Hard hands and strange words

Until you get the hang of it, Henry Oxinden’s secretary hand is just plain difficult. Take a stab at this passage from p. 469 of his Miscellany (ca. 1642-1670), Folger MS V.b.110, extracted from a sermon delivered by Charles Herle at Winwick, Lancashire, in 1654. It is typical of the entire manuscript. What does it say? Our crack team of advanced paleographers transcribed Oxinden’s messy and abbreviated secretary hand as follows: Certainly if there bee any thing glorious in the world it is a minde that contemnes that glory.… Continue Reading

So much for goats, or, cute creatures in coats of arms

John Guillim’s partial manuscript draft of A Display of Heraldry (ca. 1610) was featured in our recently closed exhibition, “Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare’s England.” We showed an opening depicting “Fishes skynned” and “Crusted fishes” and compared it to a similar opening in the printed Display of Heraldry (London, 1611). This was a difficult decision, since the fish were competing against so many other completely wonderful monsters, mammals, birds, minerals, plants, trees, fruits, stars, elements, and humors—as well as buildings, clothing, tools, weapons, and other “artificial” charges.… Continue Reading

19th-century faces in a 16th-century manuscript

A mother and her two daughters unexpectedly greet you when you open the binding of Folger MS V.a.174. Turn to the back of the volume and there they are again. Who are these late-nineteenth-century women, and why is their image affixed in perpetuity to the Elizabethan binding of a 1576 manuscript version of the Book of Common Prayer? … Continue Reading

What to eat after a long morning’s work in the Star Chamber

Well, if it’s fish Friday, the menu consisted of… fish! Fish, glorious fish. Thirty or more courses of fish, including oysters, ling, green fish, salt white herring, salt salmon, salmon, great pike, smaller pike, crayfish, roach, great carp, smaller carp, roasting eel, stock fish, chub, tench, chevin, perch, bream, salt eel, loach, flounder, smelt, gurnard, shrimp, whiting, plaice, trout, lamprey, lobster, crab, knobbard, turbot, fresh cod, haddock, barbel!… Continue Reading

Print or manuscript? Civilité type in early modern England

Have you ever received a fundraising letter in the mail that looks handwritten, or has a “handwritten” postscript or post-it note? This is an attempt, of course, to make the letter feel more personal. The recipient of the request is supposed to be intrigued: “Gee, this organization actually put some thought and time into their message, and I owe them a response.” This can backfire, of course, when the recipient realizes that the letter is a direct mail campaign, with nothing personal about it.… Continue Reading

Click-clack and crocodile tears: an annotated Elizabethan dictionary

If dictionaries are still on your mind after reading in The Collation and elsewhere about the 1580 copy of John Baret’s Alvearie owned by George Koppelman and Dan Wechsler, then here’s another tri-lingual annotated dictionary to ponder: the intensively-annotated Folger copy of John Higgins’s Huloets dictionarie newelye corrected, amended, set in order and enlarged… by which you may finde the Latin or Frenche, or anye English woorde you will (London, 1572).… Continue Reading

Buzz or honey? Shakespeare’s Beehive raises questions

Shakespeare’s birthday week begins with a bang: two New York booksellers, George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler, announced that they have found Shakespeare’s dictionary. In their new book, Shakespeare’s Beehive, Koppelman and Wechsler present their reasons for believing that William Shakespeare is the annotator of their copy of John Baret’s Alvearie, a 1580 dictionary that scholars have linked to Shakespeare’s plays and poems.… Continue Reading

Aphorism therapy, or, How to cope with dishonest relatives

Poor Walter Bagot (1557-1622). A busy county official in Staffordshire and head of a large extended family with typically complicated financial arrangements, he was on the receiving end of a constant flow of requests, complaints, and excuses. Occasionally, these letters inspired him to reach for his commonplace book and inscribe an appropriate aphorism on them, or else to compose his own proverbs in order to express his growing frustration.… Continue Reading