The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Heather Wolfe

A third manuscript by Thomas Trevelyon/Trevilian

Many Collation readers are already familiar with the Folger’s Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608 (Folger MS V.b.232), and the fabulous Trevilian Great Book of 1616 at the Wormsley Library. Both manuscripts, created by Thomas Trevelyon/Trevilian  (b. ca. 1548), have been published in facsimile, and the Folger version is also fully digitized. … Continue Reading

Such a lucky pretty little library…

We thought we’d kick off your weekend with an amusing and fascinating hybrid book that is ripe for research. The as-yet unidentified compiler of this late seventeenth-century, ca. 800-leaf volume, a recent acquisition at the Folger, describes it in many flowery ways. He introduces it as a “Vade-Mecum Memorial Manual of Muses, or Compleate Compendious Complexe and Companion, of Learned Languages and Sciences, Scarcely another to be seen so short, small and full.” This pretty much says it all: the manual is indeed small (it is a duodecimo) and full, and in fact looks more like a cube than a book, fat to the point of bursting. … Continue Reading

An exercise in collaborative editing: Anthony Bagot’s letters and Nathaniel Bacon’s pirate depositions

As part of their paleography training, my paleography students always spend a bit of each afternoon working in pairs on transcriptions. It gives them a break from being in the “spotlight” as we go around the room reading manuscripts line by line, and allows us to shift from reading out loud to the detail-work of semi-diplomatic transcription. Two or three sets of eyes are much better than a single set in terms of efficiency and accuracy, and students learn from each other in a way that they can’t learn from me.… Continue Reading

Believe it or not: strange accidents and reports

  Early modern jokes and curiosities have a way of making us feel like insiders and outsiders at the same time. We’ll encounter jokes such as “A mad man is as stronge as two / Because he is a man besides himselfe” and think, Hey, I get it, early modern folks are just like us, and if I were eight years old I would think this was hilarious!… Continue Reading

This post is brought to you by the letter L

This letter L is an example of a cadel initial, or lettre cadeau, with anthropomorphic features; that is, it is a letter created out of knot-work and caricatured or grotesque faces of people (actually, it is zoomorphic as well, with that lovely panting dog). It appears on leaf 2 of Folger MS V.a.320, an English manuscript version of Sir Henry Finch’s Nomotechnia, viz.Continue Reading

Pew-hopping in St. Margaret’s Church

Manuscripts of unusual shapes and sizes are always fun to investigate, and we recently had the opportunity to reevaluate a particularly large and interesting one, a ca. 1600 “pew plan” written on a piece of parchment (Folger MS X.d.395), in preparation for the current exhibition, Open City: London, 1500-1700.… Continue Reading

Thomas Shelton’s shorthand version of the Lord’s Prayer

Commenters to last week’s post, Heirloom apples and pears, anyone?, correctly identified the shorthand text found in Henry Oxinden’s miscellany (Folger MS V.b.110) as the Lord’s Prayer written out according to Thomas Shelton’s method of shorthand, called tachygraphy. Below is the prayer and Creed from the last leaf of the Folger copy of the 1674 edition of Thomas Shelton’s Tachygraphy: The most exact and compendious method of short and swift writing, that hath ever yet been published by any followed by the manuscript version from Oxinden’s miscellany:… Continue Reading

Heirloom apples and pears, anyone?

We’ll begin with another crocodile-style challenge in this post, from a manuscript miscellany compiled by Henry Oxinden (or Oxenden) (1609-1670) of Barham, Kent, Folger MS V.b.110. Here’s a detail from p. [4] of the miscellany: Can anyone identify what this text is? Leave messages in the comments below and I’ll provide additional clues if needed. (As a reminder, you can click on all of the images in this post to enlarge them in a new window.) This folio-sized miscellany is best known for Oxinden’s list of 123 Elizabethan and Jacobean play texts (including many by Shakespeare) from his library.… Continue Reading

Dye to live, live to dye

The Folger has recently acquired some interesting hybrid books; that is, books which consist of a mixture of thematically-connected printed, manuscript, and graphic material gathered from a variety of sources into a single binding. Sidney scholar and Folger reader Margaret Hannay and I just spent some time with one of these acquisitions, an embellished copy of Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke’s translation of Philippe de Mornay’s treatise, A discourse of life and death (London, 1600), with 17 pages of manuscript texts and 4 pages of hand-colored prints appearing before and after the printed text, all tightly focused on the theme of the transitory nature of life.… Continue Reading

Another (sort of) happy reunion…

A few months ago I wrote about the joys of bringing together parts of an archive or collection that had gone astray, and provided three recent examples (Manuscript reunions).  Well, it has happened again, but this time, the story is about a single piece of paper that was split into three parts. The first part is an autograph letter from Sir Walter Raleigh to the London goldsmith Peter Vanlore, purchased by the Folger in 1995 (X.c.54). … Continue Reading