The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts By: Sarah Werner

Pop Shakespeare’s typography

If you’ve been spending any time on social media recently, you’re likely to have come across Pop Sonnets, a new Tumblr that provides, in their words, “Old twists on new tunes, every Thursday.” Here, for instance, is their deft rewriting of Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 hit, “I Will Survive“:   If you know Gaynor’s song, you’ll appreciate the adaptation of the song’s chorus and verse structure to the sonnet’s characteristic use of the final turn.… Continue Reading

10mo!

Sometimes books surprise us, and not always for the reasons we expect. Is there something unusual about the book below? Is is maybe a bit more narrowly oblong than usual? Two years ago, I took Rare Book School’s course on descriptive bibliography. It was a great experience—it immersed me, and a group of other similarly dedicated biblionerds (as one of my friends affectionately refers to those of us who ooh and ahh at the intricacies and oddities of rare books), into the details of producing descriptions of rare books according to the established principles of bibliographical description.… Continue Reading

So how do you find symbols in signature marks?

Sarah: In my last post, I showed some examples of books that use symbols in signature marks. But how did I find these books and how might you find more examples? It’s one thing to search for books printed in the year 1542, since “publication year” is a standard search box and “1542” is written in standard typography. But you can’t really type “¶” into a search box and get useful results.… Continue Reading

The symbols of signature marks

I’ve written before about what sort of information we can learn from studying signature marks, and Goran wrote recently about the use of Latin abbreviations to indicate the gathering. So I thought the time has come to look at some of the other types of marks we find in signature marks. What comes before A? This 1579 translation of Jean Calvin’s Quatre sermons avec exposition du Pseaume 87 (STC 4439) begins with a dedicatory epistle from the translator John Field and a letter to the reader from Calvin.… Continue Reading

Identifying a leather bookplate

As became clear in the robust conversation around this month’s crocodile mystery, what we’re looking at is a leather bookplate—a circular, good-tooled leather bookplate stamped with the initials “E. H.” and a rose. While the object itself might have been easy to recognize, working out what the specifics of it were revealing was a bit harder. As Erin noted, the bookplate looked as if it had been cut down from a larger piece, leaving jagged edges rather than the smooth circle one might expect from a die-cut bookplate.… Continue Reading

Four states of Shakespeare: the Droeshout portrait

So the mysterious eye of this month’s crocodile belongs to no other than Shakespeare, as some readers immediately recognized: More specifically, it is Shakespeare’s left right eye as depicted in the third state of the Droeshout engraving from one of the Folger’s copies of the First Folio. If you’re wondering why I chose his eye as the June crocodile, that previous sentence is key: the portrait of Shakespeare engraved by Martin Droeshout for the First Folio exists in 4 different states, 3 of which can be seen in copies of the First Folio (the fourth state wasn’t introduced until the Fourth Folio in 1685).… Continue Reading

Waste not, want not

As all three commenters worked out, this month’s crocodile image is of printer’s waste used as endleaves. You can see the end of the book on the left side of the opening below (note the “finis” marking the end of the text) and the quarto imposition of the scrap paper used as part of the binding on the right side (note the brown-stained holes near the right edge, left by the clasps that were once there): Printer’s waste is not an unusual thing to see in bindings from this period.… Continue Reading

From tweet to resource

This is the story of how a tweet can grow into an amazing scholarly resource. (And it ends with a plea for you to help!) Just over a year ago, in January 2013, I was looking through the Folger’s collection of Greek texts so that I could find works for a course assignment on describing books. (My intent was to drum into them the necessity of looking at books as an activity that is separate from reading them—and what better way to do that than to ensure that they’re in a language they cannot read?)… Continue Reading

u/v, i/j, and transcribing other early modern textual oddities

When you’re encountering early modern texts for the first time, you might be surprised not only that they use such variable spelling (heart? hart? harte?) but they seem to use the wrong letters in some places. And then there are funny abbreviations! Even adept readers of early texts might stumble when it comes to making sense of some of this, especially when faced with producing transcriptions.… Continue Reading

Back-to-back reading

As commenters bruxer and Lydia Fletcher worked out,  January’s crocodile mystery showed a detail of the head of a dos-à-dos binding, with a covered board running down the middle separating two gauffred text blocks. The full picture makes it a bit clearer: A dos-à-dos binding is one in which two books are bound together back-to-back (giving rise to the name), so that each has its own front cover, but a shared back board.… Continue Reading