The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Heather Wolfe

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.)… 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

A newly uncovered presentation copy by Margaret Cavendish

Heather: The other day I received an email from the Conservation Lab with the subject line: “Annotation found on the verso of a lined frontispiece,” and a link to a couple of images, one taken under ultraviolet light. The conservators were preparing a book for the next Folger exhibition, Shakespeare’s Sisters: Voices of English and European Women Writers, 1500-1700, curated by Georgianna Ziegler and open February 3—May 20, 2012.… Continue Reading

Manuscript reunions

Sometimes we come across a manuscript on the market that looks vaguely familiar, and sends us scrambling to Hamnet to figure out why. I was reminded of this last week when a bookseller offered us a “naval return for Queen Elizabeth I signed by Fulke Greville” (in his capacity as Treasurer of the Navy), consisting of the naval charges at Deptford for September 1600.… Continue Reading

Marginalizing heralds and antiquaries

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a period of major transition for English heralds, as the number of arms being granted increased exponentially, requiring improved methods of record-keeping. Their job was both ceremonial (ordering and keeping score at tournaments, ordering funerals) and archival (granting and confirming coats of arms, carrying out visitation to determine the accuracy of the pedigrees and coats of arms that people claimed, and compiling dictionaries of arms to prevent duplication).… Continue Reading

Interrogating a hermit

Three months ago the Folger was lucky enough to acquire a letter from Thomas Cromwell to George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury. I say lucky because while roughly 350 letters from Cromwell survive, almost all of them are at either the British Library or the National Archives in Kew, and only one other letter by him has been sold at auction in over 30 years.… Continue Reading

From printing house to coffee house

Last Friday a much-anticipated package arrived at the Folger, containing a series of fifteen deeds describing the successive ownership of two adjacent properties on Fleet Street (“The King’s Highway”) in London from 1543 to 1735. Deeds can be tedious to muddle through, repetitive and full of arcane terminology. And the Folger doesn’t actively acquire deeds unless they directly relate to a collection strength, but when these were offered to us by a London bookseller, we couldn’t say no.… Continue Reading