The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

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 identiy 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

Getting Dressed with the Hermaphrodites

A guest post by Kathleen Long (Editor’s Note: You can read Kathleen’s previous post, Dining with the Hermaphrodites, for a discussion of another aspect the novel.) The inhabitants of the island depicted in the 1605 French novel, The Island of Hermaphrodites, live in a decidedly material world. They do not believe in anything truly spiritual, including the immortal soul, heaven or hell, or divinity in any celestial rather than earthly form.… Continue Reading

Early women buying books: the evidence

In 1684, Bridget Trench bought herself a copy of the Rev. Samuel Clarke’s General Martyrologie, a collection of biographies of those who had been persecuted for their beliefs in the history of the church in England. The book contains a lot of good stories whose interest is heightened by the promise on the title page of “cruel, horrid, and inhumane sufferings.” Bridget really wanted this book, but it was expensive, so she had been saving for some time.… Continue Reading

“To Madame Sarah”

Sarah Bernhardt is, for many, synonymous with the melodramatic. One of the most well-known and celebrated actresses of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, she was described by contemporaries as “indefatigable;” “an actress without a rival;” and “a queen of art.” Actor Sir Herbert Tree called her, simply, “the greatest woman I have ever known.”  She was so iconic, some referred to her as “the Bernhardt” or “the divine Sarah.” Critics commented on her “glorious” voice (“soft and deep, and capable of infinite modulation…”) and her “long, catlike step.” It is not a stretch to say that she transfixed the theatrical world entirely.… Continue Reading

Following the Trail of Counterfeits in the Folger’s Reformation Collection

A guest post by Drew Thomas Among the many collections at the Folger, besides its magnificent Shakespeare Collection, is the Stickelberger Collection of Reformation Tracts. This valuable collection, purchased by the Folger in 1977, was compiled by the Swiss writer and collector Emmanuel Stickelberger (1884-1962). Combined with the previously acquired collection of Reformation pamphlets from the library of Sir Thomas Phillips (1792-1872), the Folger’s Reformation holdings make it a leading center of Reformation resources in North America.… Continue Reading

A red proof sheet used as printer’s waste

Thank you for your guesses on this month’s crocodile mystery. The leaf pictured here shows text from the Litany printed in red. The blank space is where the text in black would have been printed in a second press run. This leaf belongs to a set of four flyleaves—each with text from the Litany printed in red on one side only—located in the binding of a copy of The Image of Gouernance translated from the Greek by Thomas Eliot and printed by Thomas Berthelet in 1544.… Continue Reading

Marks in Manuals

A guest post by Bénédicte Miyamoto Are these manuals I spy in the workshop? It is impossible to read the spines of the books in the illustration of an artist’s workshop in Salomon de Caus’s 1612 La perspectiue: auec la raison des ombres et miroirs. They are stored in early-modern fashion, with their fore-edges facing outward. Was their content actually taught in the workshop?… Continue Reading

The Many Different Ways to Make a Lacemaking Pattern Book: The Case of Vinciolo’s Book

  Early modern lacemaking pattern books are ‘eye catching’ picture books with pages after pages of intricate designs. Unlike most modern pattern books, they generally include very little instructions on how to execute their models, expecting readers either to already be experienced needleworkers or to simply enjoy browsing through their images. Some time ago I serendipitously found in our collections a copy of Federico Vinciolo’s lacemaking pattern book.… Continue Reading