The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

Stuff in Books: a conundrum

When we think of book history, most of us focus on the creation, dissemination, and reception of texts. But as many scholars have begun to discuss in the last few years, books and manuscripts ended up being used in many different ways unrelated to their status as textual objects. Once we begin to consider what purposes bound books and manuscripts might have served beyond their primary function as sources of knowledge and learning, the list gets long fairly quickly.… Continue Reading

A Dictionary for Don Quixote

A guest post by Kathryn Vomero Santos For scholars interested in the history of translation and language learning in early modern England, signs of use in books designed to teach their users how to read, speak, or write in another language are especially exciting. Annotations, corrections, and translations in the margins and fly leaves can offer a glimpse, partial though it may be, into the purposes and processes for acquiring another tongue.… Continue Reading

Learning to Weep: Early Modern Readers Reading Saint Peters Complaint (1595)

A guest post by Clarissa Chenovick Devotional weeping was serious business in early modern England. In an impressive array of bestselling print sermons and spiritual treatises, preachers and writers of varied religious persuasions exhort their hearers and readers to weep, sigh, and groan over their sins, and their audiences seem to have complied—or tried to comply—-with enthusiasm. We are familiar with the idea that medieval and Counter-Reformation Catholics embraced bodily expressions of penitence, including intensive weeping, but early modern Protestants also emphasize the value of devotional weeping.… Continue Reading

Early modern straws; or, quills are not just for writing

This post is brought to you by John Ward, who observed in the 1660s that a good way to “avoid drinking too much Beer” is to “suck itt in with a quill.” While we tend to think of quills quite narrowly as writing implements, quills in fact had many uses in early modern England. Because they were hollow shafts made of sturdy waterproof keratin, which is perfect for storing and conveying air, liquid, and powder, they had medical, culinary, recreational, and criminal applications as well.… Continue Reading

Got Gout? Eighteenth-Century Global “Remedies” in Mary Kettilby’s Receipt Book

A guest post by April Fuller and Laurel Bassett In her early eighteenth-century recipe, “A Drink for the Gout,” Mary Kettilby’s list of ingredients contain both homegrown roots and objects of empire “pressed into service” for the recovery of the English subject against “Sharp Humours that occasion that dismal Tormenting Distemper.” The availability of spices, in quantity and at more affordable prices in the eighteenth-century, made it possible for men and women up and down the social ladder to take familiar English recipes and add an international twist.… Continue Reading

Book Stamps

Many thanks for your guesses. What you see in this picture is the verso of a title page leaf. The stamp at the top of the picture is indeed the one of the Basel Public Library. The coat of arms beneath it depicts the arms of the Gufer von Reinhardsberg family from Bamberg, active at least until the early 18th century.… Continue Reading

Launching Global Environmental History: Dr. Thomas Short on Air and Diseases in 1749

A guest post by Ruma Chopra It took the English doctor Thomas Short eighteen years to publish his nearly 1000-page assessment of the relationship between climates and diseases. Published in 1749, his two-volume history, A general chronological history of the air, weather, seasons, meteors, &c. in sundry places and different times, more particularly for the space of 250 years, together with some of their most remarkable effects on animal (especially human) bodies, and vegetables (Folger 203- 254q) correlates astronomical and climatic conditions to a variety of distempers and diseases in various parts of the world by placing hundreds of scattered episodes in one chronological sequence.… Continue Reading

“What’s in a Name?” or, Going Sideways

When, in Act 2 of William Shakespeare’s famous teen suicide play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet muses “[w]hat’s in a name? That which we call a rose / [b]y any other word would smell as sweet,” it’s lucky for her that she isn’t speaking to a librarian. Although her sentiment is poetic, we librarians prefer to be a bit more precise when it comes to terminology.… Continue Reading

All the world and half a dozen lemons

A guest post by Lauren Working Thomas Wood’s 1576 letter to Richard Bagot begins conventionally enough. Wood was sending some artichoke “slips” with his letter, and he begins by describing the optimal way to plant the specimens to guarantee their growth. He accompanies this description with a simple sketch in the margin before turning to news from the Continent, including the story of a Polish duke who had “turned Turk,” or converted to Islam.… Continue Reading

Drawn by Hayman, etched by Gravelot, preserved in Folger ART Vol. b72

For the June 2019 “Crocodile Mystery” we asked you to spot the differences between these two pictures: The main difference, of course, is that one is pretty much the reverse of the other. There are significant compositional differences too, though: Background figures in A do not appear in B Running man holds out an open palm in A and a sword in B Scabbards and legs in A make oblique angles; in B they are parallel or near-parallel (they’re also moved so that figures in both A and B can draw their swords right-handed).… Continue Reading