The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Art

Acquiring and adopting books

Each year around this time, the Folger hosts Acquisitions Night benefiting the Library’s Acquisitions program. Showcasing some of the most interesting, beautiful, and rare items we’ve purchased for the collection in the past year, the event invites donors to “adopt” selected items by reimbursing the Library their purchase prices. The money made through adoptions is put back into the Acquisitions budget and used to purchase more rare materials for the remainder of the fiscal year.… Continue Reading

See the 1960s Royal Shakespeare Company, now at the Folger!

Want to see Patrick Stewart in his mid-20s? How about photos of set design models for Peter Hall’s 1959 Coriolanus, starring Laurence Olivier? Come see the Folger’s newly acquired Gordon Goode Collection of Royal Shakespeare Company photographs. Gordon Goode (1931–2008) ran a freelance photography studio in Stratford-upon-Avon between 1958 and 1968, the decade that coincided with the formative years of the Royal Shakespeare Company.… Continue Reading

Happy New Year’s “E”

Perpetual calendars in the early modern period relied on knowing a given year’s “dominical letter” or  “Sunday letter”—the letter corresponding to the date of the first Sunday in January where A=1, B=2, C=3, and so on. This New Year’s Eve, we’re five days away from Sunday, so 2014’s dominical letter is the fifth letter of the alphabet: E. Armed with that knowledge, a quick glance at this William Faithorne engraving tells me, for example, that May 20 is a Tuesday:… Continue Reading

A look back at our 2013

Here on The Collation, it’s been a busy 2013. Today’s post will be our 68th of the year, and as of December 15th, we’d racked up 46,012 visits from 33,411 unique visitors, producing 67,361 pageviews this year. *phew* It’s gratifying that we have readers who enjoy our posts and that come to us repeatedly to learn what we have to share.… Continue Reading

Mr. Folger’s most expensive painting

There’s a persistent rumor that “Mr. Folger never paid more than x for a painting.” The value of x depends on who’s telling the story, but it’s generally around $2,000 and is used as evidence that he wasn’t interested in paintings. The rumor probably began with Mr. Folger himself. When negotiating with dealers, he sometimes allows as how he might consider purchasing the item in question, but it’s really not the sort of thing he usually collects, and in any case, he’s never paid more than some small amount for such a thing… You get the idea.… Continue Reading

Can you spot the differences?

Have a look at the coat of arms worn by Edwin Booth (1833–1893) in the title role of Shakespeare’s King Richard III. Notice something wrong? Hint: The conventions Victorian aesthetics aren’t the same as the conventions of medieval heraldry. Give up? Aesthetic rules call for heavier design elements below lighter ones (hence a pyramid of fleurs-de-lis) and bilateral symmetry (hence sets of lions facing each other).… Continue Reading

Conserving the Cosway Portrait of Shakespeare

A guest post by Dawn Rogala Editor’s note: Folger conservators are internationally known for their expertise in book and paper conservation. When it comes to conserving paintings, though, we turn to outside experts like Dawn Rogala of Page Conservation, Inc. Here, Dawn explains how she treated the Cosway Portrait of Shakespeare. All photos in this post have been provided by Page Conservation.Continue Reading

Picture cataloging: new rules for old

Ta daaaa! I’m happy to introduce to you Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics)—DCRM(G) for short—the latest publication in a suite of manuals that provides descriptive cataloging rules for primary source materials in special collections libraries. The official announcement will be made by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries jointly with the Library of Congress, but I figure it’s okay to leak the news to Collation readers since I led the editorial team.… Continue Reading

Folger Exhibition Hall, circa 1935

With the Exhibition Hall closed for needed repairs this summer, I got to thinking about the various displays it has held over the years. It’s almost impossible to pick out any specific books or manuscripts in this photo from around 1935, but many of the objects and paintings are recognizable [UPDATE: the photo was taken in 1931, before the library opened]. … Continue Reading

Noticing the weirdness of texts

Sometimes it’s fun just to look at books without worrying what they are and who printed them and what the text says. And sometimes, when you do that, you notice all sorts of ways in which they’re weird—they mix manuscript and print together, they play with layout and movement, they come in different shapes and sizes, we find them in unexpected places.… Continue Reading