The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Collections

News, News, News

How do you get your news today? TV? Radio? Printed newspapers? Online news sites? Social media? Today we seem to be inundated by the news 24/7 and it sometimes takes a conscious effort to step away from the barrage. News consumption habits have changed drastically in the last twenty years. But while the speed at which news reaches us may be at unprecedented levels, the multiplicity of delivery methods for the news is nothing—ahem—new.… Continue Reading

Time writing

Chronograms—literally, “time writing”—are dates embedded within text. As such, they are a form of hidden writing called steganography: the encoded characters maintain their own value, but are hidden within a larger text. Easily calculable to those who know what they’re looking for, they still excite the thrill of uncovering secret meaning. That thrill was experienced by this cataloger when, for the first time ever, she came across a chronogram that had been previously unremarked.… Continue Reading

Early modern legal violence: for the common good?

A guest post by Dr. Sarah Higinbotham In a 1628 sermon preached before the Assize court at Oxford, Robert Harris reminds the “Sheriffes, Iustices, [and] Iudges” that they have taken “an oath for the common good.” He reminds them that they work for the people, not for power: they are to “plucke the spoile out of the teeth of the mighty” “and to bestride [their] poore brother, when hee is stricken downe.”… Continue Reading

Lost at Sea

Shakespeare liked shipwrecks, including one in at least five of his plays. Sea storms and shipwrecks were a convenient way to separate characters or bring them into conflict, as well as stranding them in a strange place. In the “Age of Exploration,” sea voyages became enticingly more possible over time, in spite of the dangers. But although Shakespeare himself never sailed to new lands, his printed words have circled the globe.… Continue Reading

Dryden’s Virgil, Ogilby’s Virgil, and Aeneas’s nose job

First, a confession: this month’s Crocodile Mystery was originally going to pose a question along the lines of “What’s weird about this image?” or “What makes this picture especially interesting?” but I gave up. I couldn’t figure out how to phrase it in a way that wouldn’t, in fact, be saying “Try to guess what crucial piece of information is being deliberately witheld!”… Continue Reading

A nineteenth-century family circus

A few months ago, I wrote about the process of creating brief catalog records for the Folger’s playbill collection. Since then, I’ve completed records for playbills from London and all of Scotland, and have begun working my way through playbills from the rest of England. Recently, I came across a playbill for a performance by Cooke’s Royal Circus in Birmingham. I thought the name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it until I checked our catalog and remembered that I had cataloged another playbill for Cooke’s Royal Circus over the summer.… Continue Reading

Consuming the New World

A guest post by Misha Ewen William Petre (1575-1637) was a typical gentleman of his time. He was 22 years old and newly married when he began keeping an account book of his household expenses. Between 1597 and 1610 Petre recorded the money he spent on maintaining his estate, including servants’ wages, as well as charity to the poor, lodging, and sustenance during his journeys to London.… Continue Reading

Black Monday: the Great Solar Eclipse of 1652

In all the excitement of yesterday’s solar eclipse, you may have learned that eclipses are common: most calendar years have four eclipses (two solar and two lunar), with a maximum of seven eclipses (though this is rare). What makes a solar eclipse special, at least for some people, is when it takes place at a time and in a place where we are able to experience near or complete totality—when the entire face of the sun is covered by the moon.… Continue Reading

A New Era: The Folger Now Uses Aeon!

Arrive at the Folger and grab a locker. Check in at the Registrar desk. Find that perfect spot in the Reading Room—not too cold, with just the right amount of light. Say hello to the wonderful staff and pick up a stack of call slips. Fill them out and let the research begin! Now imagine checking into the Reading Room and stopping by the circulation desk to pick up the books you already requested before your visit.… Continue Reading

How to Make a Librarian Panic

Co-authored by Elizabeth DeBold (Curatorial Assistant), Renate Mesmer (Head of Conservation), Austin Plann Curley (Book Conservator), and Adrienne Bell (Book Conservator). With special thanks to Kevin Cilurzo (Conservation Intern).   As some of our respondents observed in their comments on this month’s Crocodile Post, there is a strange-looking deposit on the leather of this book. The book is, as others correctly identified, one of the volumes from the Folger’s multi-volume set of Famiglie celebri Italiane…, an eighteenth-century work published in Torino, which focuses on Italian heraldry.… Continue Reading