The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

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

A Conservation Intern’s Observations on STC 2608

A guest post by Kevin Cilurzo (with particular thanks to Adrienne Bell) For a conservator, to disbind and rebind a book is a rare chance to study and understand its binding structure. With broken sewing and loose detached leaves, Folger STC 2608 needed major conservation treatment before it could be safely handled by readers. Folger STC 2608 is a hybrid book combining a manuscript and a printed text.… Continue Reading

Reading Anatomy Texts Like Poetry (and why we should do it more often)

A guest post by Whitney Sperrazza When we look at this page from Thomas Bartholin’s 1668 anatomy text (Folger B977), it’s easy to think of it as an objective document. We imagine we are seeing “data” about the womb and clitoris gathered by the anatomist during the dissection process. Reading science books, even old ones, this is the prevailing pattern, and one that scientists themselves continue to cultivate.… Continue Reading

Expurgation with decoration: type ornaments as replacement text

Thanks for the great comments on last week’s Crocodile Mystery. Everyone scores ten points, with full marks going to the two commenters who correctly identified the publication. It is, in fact, a block of nonsense that replaces an expurgated paragraph of text. I wish I could show you the whole page of the Folger copy, but unfortunately, the visual note-to-self shown here is all I’ve got until the Folger re-opens after major renovations.… Continue Reading

Marks on Bindings

Thank you for your witty guesses to this month’s Crocodile, they are great! I also need to make a disclaimer: I am far from having collected enough evidence to answer this mystery, so like you, I only have guesses to offer and they may not be as funny as yours… Like many of you, I’m leaning towards the hypothesis that this book was used as a board mat to cut something (most likely paper).… Continue Reading

Balancing information and expertise: vernacular guidance on bloodletting in early modern calendars and almanacs

A guest post by Mary Yearl The first calendar printed as a book in Europe was also the first to contain a printed image of a bloodletting man.1 This point alone is indicative of the importance bloodletting played in medieval and early modern regimens of health. There were other medical approaches that would have occupied a more central place in every day care (e.g.,… Continue Reading

Touching Tusser

A guest post by Andy Crow “As to the bindings, the plain crushed levant looks all right, but when you send me my copy, I would like it, please, in sheep—about the tint of a ripe chestnut. That is fittest for Tusser.” Rudyard Kipling, “Benediction” to Thomas Tusser, Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry (London: James Tregaskis & Son, 1931) Rudyard Kipling’s request for a sheepskin-bound copy of Thomas Tusser’s Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry was a request for a piece of the land.… Continue Reading

Using cardboard spacers to fill gaps on the shelf

Sometimes the simplest tools are the best. This post is a tribute to the humble hunk of folded cardboard.1 Cardboard spacer filling the gap on the shelf while two large volumes are in use. All photos are by me, Erin Blake. You know how when you take a book off the shelf, you stare at the empty space for a fraction of a second, waiting to see if the books on either side stay standing-up?… Continue Reading

The Art of the Prompt Book

Most library visitors to the Folger expect us to have books in our collections. Some know that we also have art, manuscripts, and even objects. Yet, any exploration into our collections means that researchers will inevitably encounter an item that could be described as including printed, manuscript, and even artistic content, all in one. Heather Wolfe has eloquently described such “hybrid” materials as “consist[ing] of a mixture of thematically-connected printed, manuscript, and graphic material gathered from a variety of sources into a single binding.”… Continue Reading