The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

Idols of the Reformation

Thank you to all who weighed in on this month’s Crocodile Mystery! Many people recognize October 31, 1517 as a major milestone in the beginning of the Protestant Reformation—the date that it is said Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg. To mark that occasion, I thought it would be fitting to have a Reformation-themed Crocodile post!… 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? 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 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.”… 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.”… 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