The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Heather Wolfe

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

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.”… Continue Reading