The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

Secret histories of books

This month’s crocodile mystery was a bit more challenging than recent ones (perhaps not helped by my cryptic “suitable for April” introduction), but Aaron Pratt guessed the gist of it: the image was a detail of a page printed in black, usually referred to as a mourning page. Here is the full context, with the bit we were looking at taken from the middle of the left-hand page:… Continue Reading

Opening Ornamental Initials

During the last couple of months at the Folger, we have come across a number of exceptional ornamental initials in Flemish imprints, as we are processing these systematically together with two interns. These initials can be fascinating to study. For example, look at the beginning of the first book of Lodovico Melzo’s Regole militari […] sopra il governo e servitio della cavalleria, published in Antwerp by Joachim Trognesius in 1611: (Click on any image in this post to enlarge it.)… Continue Reading

The seven ages of man, rendered movingly

In my last post, I described this month’s crocodile mystery as more of a rhetorical device than a question to be answered: what does this box prompt us to imagine what might be? And what does it contain? Both a stage and a book. But it’s not just any stage and not just any book. The Globe Theatre is the setting for a miniature book that picks up on all the possibilities of staging:  “Presenting the Seven Ages of Man / by Mr William Shakespeare / As Rendered Movingly by Mrs.… Continue Reading

An important auction

Let it be known that amongst the furniture of the late Duke of Aerschot, there are about 2000 paintings in all kinds of colors by a variety of excellent masters, such as Albrecht Dürer, Lucas van Leyden, Jan Gossaert, Hieronymus Bosch, “Florus Daych,” “Longue Pierre,” Titian, Veronese, and others.Continue Reading

The Folger’s Mazarinades: Libraries within Libraries

A guest post by Kathryn Gucer In 1652, Gabriel Naudé argued passionately for the importance of libraries and collecting books in a brief pamphlet, Advis a nosseigneurs de Parliament. Naudé repudiates a proposal by the parliament of Paris to break up and sell off the library of Cardinal Jules Mazarin, chief adviser to Louis XIV and the parliament’s arch enemy.… Continue Reading

Capital News from the Low Countries

What from a distance may look like a pasture, perhaps with oddly shaped poppies or some other flowers on the foreground and two buildings in the background, is actually much less pleasant. (Click any image in this post to enlarge it; once it opens in a new window/tab, click again to zoom in for details.)… Continue Reading

Volvelles

As three of you immediately identified in your comments, last week’s crocodile mystery was the fastening in the center of a volvelle, holding the various layers in place and allowing them to turn: Volvelles are paper wheels that are fastened to a leaf so that the discs spin independently. Some of the earliest volvelles were used for prognostication; Ramon Llull is credited with bringing the volvelle to the West in the late thirteenth century for use in his Ars Magna.  … Continue Reading

Winning the lottery

On Saturday 4 November 1617, the archdukes of the Southern Netherlands, Albert and Isabella, granted permission to the “gentil homme Lucquois” Matthias Micheli to organize a lottery for the foundation of the “Bergen van Barmhartigheid” or “Monts de piété.” First invented in Italy in the 15th century, the Monts were public pawnbroking institutes where people could give goods as collateral to borrow money at relatively cheap interest rates.… Continue Reading

Cataloging at the Folger: a Primer

When I meet people for the first time and they hear that I am a rare book cataloger, I can expect one or both of these questions: “What’s a rare book,” and “What is cataloging?” This crowd doesn’t need my expostulations on the first, but cataloging is just enough of an unknown that a primer may be in order. Library cataloging is the process of providing structured description and controlled vocabulary into bibliographic records, and of collecting these records into a system of some sort.… Continue Reading

Itty-bitty tab dividers

The main trick with November’s “crocodile” was having to figure out the scale. It looks at first glance like a woolly button on a pin-striped shirt: But when a ruler is included in the shot, you can see that the colorful bobble is only 3 mm in diameter: … Continue Reading