The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

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

To bind: Ligatures in Aldine Type

Yes, indeed. As many of you quickly identified, each of the images in this month’s mystery post contain at least one ligature. In fact, all of the images are from a single set of type: the Aldine italic that was used at the press in Venice run by Aldus Manutius in the early part of the 16th century. These ligatures are one of the things that make this italic type so interesting to those studying the history of books and typography.… Continue Reading

The Location of Plates in a Book

When consulting a book with plates (that is, inserted leaves printed separately from the text), it is best not to assume that they have been placed in the same location in all copies of the same edition nor that their location in the book reflects the one intended by the author or the publisher. In our copy of Hiob Ludolf’s book on the ancient Ethiopian language of Ge’ez, for example, the portrait of the Ethiopian abbot Gregory was inserted between leaves E1 and E2 (or pages 34-35): while in the Bavarian State Library copy, it is located before leaf A, after the preliminary leaves including the author’s preface.… Continue Reading

The evolution of collection practices: a case study

A guest post by Lauren Liebe There is nothing quite as exciting in archival research as stumbling upon an unexpected connection between two objects. When I called up L852 copy 3 and D2292, I had not realized that they shared a Folger case file number (indicating that they were both purchased by Henry and Emily Folger, likely around the same time); but even that information would not have told me that the two volumes, both sammelbands of Restoration-era drama, were part of a four-volume set.… Continue Reading

Uncancelling the cancelled: recovering obliterated owners of old books

Last week’s Crocodile showed a detail of a cancelled name on the title page of Folger STC 17132. Despite the parallel hatching that was used to conceal it, two Collation readers immediately identified Humphrey Dyson’s distinctive signature. The item note in the Hamnet record describes it as “inscription on t.p. crossed out and illegible,” but watch this space—Folger catalogers will soon update the record to reflect the fact that An answer to the vntruthes : published and printed in Spaine, in glorie of their supposed victorie atchieued against our English Nauie… (London: John Jackson for Thomas Cadman, 1589) was once part of Dyson’s library of 2,000 titles and roughly 6,000 broadsides.… Continue Reading

Almanacs as Underdogs

A guest post by Katherine Walker The Folger houses many impressive texts and manuscripts. So much so, in fact, that it is easy to overlook the library’s equally vast and provocative collection of less illustrious genres. These texts will not require heavy lifting or elaborate stands. No one will likely toss an envious glance your way as you peruse these uninspired quartos in the reading rooms.… Continue Reading

What is the scope of the STC?

John Lancaster’s guess for March’s crocodile post is correct: This catechism, printed in Basel by Andreas Gesner, has an STC number because it follows the use of Salisbury; it therefore belongs to the group of books not in English printed abroad “according to British ‘use’” described in Katharine Pantzer’s introduction to the second edition of the Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad (STC).… Continue Reading