The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

An Italian Naturalist in England

Thank you for your guesses. “Aldrovandus” is indeed the first word of the sentence, “Gesner” is the last one. The whole sentence reads: “Aldrovandus does not take things vp pon trust alltogether so much as Gesner:” This transcription was produced by the amazing “Folger Ward Team,” made up of Folger staff and other volunteers, who are transcribing the complete set of Ward’s diaries.… Continue Reading

The art of dying

a guest post by Eileen Sperry For early modern English Christians, dying was an art form. The bestseller list of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, had there been one, would have been topped by some of the period’s many ars moriendi texts. These treatises, which took hold in England in the late 15th century and remained present through the country’s many doctrinal shifts, were wildly popular.… Continue Reading

Innogen and Ghost Characters

In a humorous post from 2017, web comic creator Mya Gosling mused about the absence of mothers in Shakespeare’s plays. Employing her signature stick-figure style, she presented a series of single-panel comics that put these absent maternal figures back in the picture, showing them as calming, sensible, or protective forces whose intervention may have drastically altered the tragic (or near-tragic) events of the plays.… Continue Reading

Stealing Signs

Thanks to everyone who shared their guesses on last week’s post and congratulations to those of you who guessed correctly! Sermo mirabilis: or the silent language by Charles de La Fin, London, 1693. Folger call number: L174 The mystery image comes from an instruction manual on sign language communication by Charles de La Fin entitled Sermo mirabilis: or the silent language.… Continue Reading

Caught Inky Handed: Fingerprints of Practitioners

Thank you for your suggestions regarding these fingerprints. They are, indeed, the marks of two different fingers with different patterns. I tend to think, like Elizabeth, that they are the marks of a middle finger and an index or a ring finger. The description of the page I wrote last week, which was based only on a photograph taken more than two years ago, turned out not to be entirely correct.… Continue Reading

A Blessing to Booksellers

In her 1616 mother’s advice book, The Mothers Blessing, Puritan author Dorothy Leigh exhorts her readers: “Teach a childe in his youth the trade of his life, and he will not forget it, not depart from it when he is old.” This well-known Bible verse explains the lifelong project of labor for spiritual learning required for the practicing Christian. Leigh’s godly advice applies to her readers at all stages of life as they learn the precepts of faith in youth through their adulthood until their old age when they shall reap the fruit of their spiritual labor in death.… Continue Reading

Romeo and…

Thanks for our many eagle-eyed readers and your attention to this month’s Crocodile Post. As several folks guessed, this is a French parody of Romeo and Juliet called Roméo et Paquette, published in 1773. This item is a new acquisition, purchased in 2019 from our colleagues at Antiquariat Inlibris in Vienna. As incredible as it may seem, the first translations of Shakespeare’s plays only began to appear in France in the eighteenth century.… Continue Reading

Should we care where Lucy Hutchinson went to church?

A guest post by Crawford Gribben Over the last few years—and with the benefit of my summer Folger fellowship—I’ve been thinking about the network of friends and rivals that had at its centre the puritan theologian, John Owen (1616-83). Owen was one of the most productive writers of the seventeenth century, and the Folger holds one of the largest collections of his work.… Continue Reading

A briefing on brevigraphs, those strange shapes in early printed texts

Most people reading this will know that “&” and “and” mean the same thing. Some will also know that the ampersand’s “&” shape originated from the handwritten word “et” (Latin for “and”). The  “e” and the “t” are combined into a single character, making “&” the best-known example of a brevigraph. Instead of writing out “et cetera” you can simply write “&c.”… Continue Reading

Paper Trades

Thank you for your insightful comments on our Crocodile Mystery, which I enjoyed reading as usual. My heartfelt thanks also to Andrew Hare, Supervisory East Asian Painting Conservator, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, for identifying the various papers and prints in the book; and to my Folger colleague Wenqi Han for locating a copy of the book Wan shou sheng dian chu ji: yi bai er shi juan.Continue Reading