The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

Marks on Bindings

Thank you for your witty guesses to this month’s Crocodile, they are great! I also need to make a disclaimer: I am far from having collected enough evidence to answer this mystery, so like you, I only have guesses to offer and they may not be as funny as yours… Like many of you, I’m leaning towards the hypothesis that this book was used as a board mat to cut something (most likely paper).… Continue Reading

Balancing information and expertise: vernacular guidance on bloodletting in early modern calendars and almanacs

A guest post by Mary Yearl The first calendar printed as a book in Europe was also the first to contain a printed image of a bloodletting man.1 This point alone is indicative of the importance bloodletting played in medieval and early modern regimens of health. There were other medical approaches that would have occupied a more central place in every day care (e.g.,… Continue Reading

Touching Tusser

A guest post by Andy Crow “As to the bindings, the plain crushed levant looks all right, but when you send me my copy, I would like it, please, in sheep—about the tint of a ripe chestnut. That is fittest for Tusser.” Rudyard Kipling, “Benediction” to Thomas Tusser, Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry (London: James Tregaskis & Son, 1931) Rudyard Kipling’s request for a sheepskin-bound copy of Thomas Tusser’s Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry was a request for a piece of the land.… Continue Reading

Using cardboard spacers to fill gaps on the shelf

Sometimes the simplest tools are the best. This post is a tribute to the humble hunk of folded cardboard.1 Cardboard spacer filling the gap on the shelf while two large volumes are in use. All photos are by me, Erin Blake. You know how when you take a book off the shelf, you stare at the empty space for a fraction of a second, waiting to see if the books on either side stay standing-up?… Continue Reading

The Art of the Prompt Book

Most library visitors to the Folger expect us to have books in our collections. Some know that we also have art, manuscripts, and even objects. Yet, any exploration into our collections means that researchers will inevitably encounter an item that could be described as including printed, manuscript, and even artistic content, all in one. Heather Wolfe has eloquently described such “hybrid” materials as “consist[ing] of a mixture of thematically-connected printed, manuscript, and graphic material gathered from a variety of sources into a single binding.”… Continue Reading

A Cacique By Any Other Name

… Or, Etymologies in Translation, from the Caribbean to London A guest post by Valeria López Fadul The word “cacique”—a leader or lord among the people of the Caribbean islands—first appeared in an English book in 1555.1 Richard Eden’s translation of Peter Martyr of Angleria’s The Decades of the Newe World of West India introduced the island of Haiti to English-language readers.… Continue Reading

An Unfinished Title Page Border?

Many thanks for your answers to last week’s post. They convey the puzzling nature of this title page border: Is it an unfinished work? Was it intended to be completed by readers of the book? Does it look different in other copies? Folger Shakespeare Library, 173- 630q To our eyes, indeed, the border design may look incomplete: the figures in the foreground, which we would expect to be highly finished, are either barely ‘legible’, suggested or simply not worked out.… Continue Reading

A guided tour of an incunabulum from 1478

A guest post by Sujata Iyengar Typography—the design of individual printed letter-shapes—makes printed books easier to read, and it can also shape our understanding and experience of the text and the content that an individual book contains. At first, early printed books imitated the layout and typography of scribal manuscripts. As this new medium—print—matured, however, printers, and even authors, learned how to use the affordances, or media-specific qualities, of printed sheets in order to indicate what kind of book they were creating, what kind of audience they were seeking, and even what kind of emotion they wished to evoke.… Continue Reading

Thoroughly Modern Helena

What do Robert Browning, Anna Maria Hall, Geraldine Jewsbury, John Ruskin, and Anna Swanwick, have in common? Quite a bit, actually. But in the Folger’s collection, they were the five “recipients” of Helena Faucit’s essays that formed the volume On Some of Shakespeare’s Female Characters. Helena Faucit (Lady Martin, later in life—her husband Theodore Martin was knighted as reward for his biography of Prince Albert, and both were confidants of Queen Victoria) began her London theatrical career in 1836, at the age of 22.… Continue Reading

The “Quartermaster’s Map” of England and Wales

Thanks for the excellent guesses on the identity of the August Crocodile Mystery! If you’ll permit me to indulge myself, I’ll prolong the suspense a little longer by showing some examples of what it might have been, but isn’t (and if you won’t permit me, no one’s stopping you from scrolling down now to read the answer). As several people pointed out, the tall and skinny binding is the sort of thing you’d expect for a ledger or some other kind of  financial account book.… Continue Reading