The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

How an 18th-century clergyman read his Folio

The Folger Shakespeare Library has never acquired another copy of a Shakespeare Folio since the Folgers’ time—until now. We recently added number 38 to our collection of Fourth Folios (S2915 Fo.4 no.38). Published in 1685, this was the last of the four great printings of Shakespeare’s collected plays during the 17th century. It was followed in 1709 by the first “modern” edition, by Nicholas Rowe, who followed the Fourth Folio text but added scene divisions, stage directions, and a character list (dramatis personae) for each play.… Continue Reading

Correcting with cancel slips

Thanks to my last post, when Mitch Fraas and I were looking at how different copies of the same book handled having a printer error (Judas instead of Jesus, in that case), I’ve spent the last week with cancel slips on my mind—those pieces of papers that are pasted in to correct printing mistakes. Once you start looking, you can find cancel slips in a huge range of uses and states.… Continue Reading

Keeping your Jesus and Judas straight

Co-written by Sarah Werner and Mitch Fraas One might think that when printing the New Testament, one would want to avoid at all costs mixing up Jesus and Judas. However, this month’s crocodile shows that such mistakes did happen: As two commentators simultaneously identified the mystery, the image shows a well-known misprint from the 1610 Geneva Bible (STC 2212) in John 6:67, in which instead of Jesus speaking to the apostles, Judas is identified as the speaker.… Continue Reading

Q & A: Caroline Duroselle-Melish, Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints

In January, Caroline Duroselle-Melish joined the Folger as the new Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints, a position that gives her responsibility over books and prints through 1800. She has worked with a wide range of collections in university and independent rare book libraries, including serving as Rare Book Librarian at the University of Rochester and, most recently, as Assistant Curator at the Houghton Library, Harvard University.… Continue Reading

Taming a tight binding

You know how some old bindings gently let a book stay open on its own, at a comfortable angle? And how other old bindings seem to willfully resist, taunting you by starting to close just as you get the book weights perfectly arranged? This post introduces a simple tool that can help tame those tight bindings: a V-shaped wedge of lightweight plastic.… Continue Reading

“I see it feelingly”: a raised-type King Lear

For many of the books in our collection, an unassuming cover can turn out to protect a fascinating text block. What makes this one unusual is the discovery, upon opening the cover, that this book is meant to be read not with the eyes, but with the fingertips! (Luckily for my unpracticed digits, it’s also fairly easy to interpret the type visually.) This 1871 edition of King Lear (Sh.Col.… Continue Reading

Pi(e) day, represented

March 14th is Pi(e) Day, and this year we get an extra two digits (this year’s date being, in the American style, 3/14/15, taking us through the first 5 digits of pi). While many people (including our culinarily-inclined staff here at the Folger) celebrate this day with sweet (and not-so-sweet) pastries, I wanted to bring the day back to its roots, and explore the mathematical side of Pi Day.… Continue Reading

“This Play I Red” and other marginal notes on reading

A guest post by Claire M. L. Bourne As a long-term fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library this year, I have been surveying all the English playbooks in the collection—from 1500 to 1709—in order to understand changing conventions of dramatic typography over the first two centuries of printing plays. This is slow, painstaking work, but it is showing me that early modern typographic experimentation was often keyed to innovations in theatrical performance.… Continue Reading

Research round-up: February 2015

The theme of this month’s post, which features two questions regarding 19th-century sources, is “We have materials beyond the early modern period!” As our collection development policy states, in addition to seeking primary source material on English and continental civilization in the early modern period, we also collect materials on “English drama in the eighteenth century” and “Shakespeare-related material to the present.” Hmm, perhaps we should add a tag-line—Folger Shakespeare Library: More than the long 16th century.… Continue Reading

Unwanted doodles in a Shakespeare quarto

Our new curator of early modern books and prints, Caroline Duroselle-Melish, and I were up in the conservation lab a few days ago, consulting with book conservator Adrienne Bell on the optimal opening for safely digitizing a quarto edition of Henry VI, Part 3 (STC 21006a copy 1) in preparation for our “Wonder of Will” commemoration activities next year at the Folger.… Continue Reading