The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Collections

Interrogating a hermit

Three months ago the Folger was lucky enough to acquire a letter from Thomas Cromwell to George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury. I say lucky because while roughly 350 letters from Cromwell survive, almost all of them are at either the British Library or the National Archives in Kew, and only one other letter by him has been sold at auction in over 30 years.… Continue Reading

Battling over 18th-century rights to Shakespeare

In working on the Shakespeare Collection NEH grant-funded project for the past year, I have learned more than I ever imagined possible regarding the history of eighteenth-century publishing, particularly the “Shakespeare copyrights” and ownership disputes between booksellers. The feud between booksellers Jacob Tonson and Robert Walker is just such an example. In the early eighteenth century, the Tonson firm held the copyright for Shakespeare works, publishing fine editions by popular editors such as Alexander Pope and Nicholas Rowe.… Continue Reading

Copperplate illustrations and the question of quality

While looking at early modern book illustration in the undergraduate seminar on Friday, we got to talking about the false assumption that copperplate illustrations always indicate better-quality publications, while woodcuts are inherently lowly. True, the raw material is more expensive: copper plates cost more than wood blocks. True, it’s possible to produce finer lines in copperplate illustrations than in woodcuts, allowing for more detail.… Continue Reading

Cataloging and preserving the Shakespeare collection

Cataloging and Preserving the Shakespeare Collection is a three-year project at the Folger Shakespeare Library funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Catalogers are working to create and upgrade definitive records for the Folger’s more than 5,000 Shakespeare works in print from the 18th through 20th centuries. In addition to cataloging the books and making the records available online, the project brings together a team of curators, conservators, and reference members in order to conserve the materials for future generations of scholars, with procedures such as sending high spot volumes for off-site deacidification, as well as housing vulnerable materials in phase boxes, to preserve structural integrity.… Continue Reading

Guyot’s speciman sheet

If you’re a type designer (or a type caster, to be more appropriate to the early modern period), how do you show people examples of your wares? You use a specimen sheet: On this sheet, we see a matched set of roman and italic typefaces, each in three sizes. The roman (from largest to smallest, and from top to bottom) is in canon, double pica, and pica; the italic (zig-zagging from right to left to middle) is in double pica, great primer, and pica.… Continue Reading

From printing house to coffee house

Last Friday a much-anticipated package arrived at the Folger, containing a series of fifteen deeds describing the successive ownership of two adjacent properties on Fleet Street (“The King’s Highway”) in London from 1543 to 1735. Deeds can be tedious to muddle through, repetitive and full of arcane terminology. And the Folger doesn’t actively acquire deeds unless they directly relate to a collection strength, but when these were offered to us by a London bookseller, we couldn’t say no.… Continue Reading

Sue Doggett’s The Tempest, a unique artists’ book

Conventional wisdom sets up two distinct experiences of Shakespeare’s plays: readers encountering a text, and audiences encountering a performance. The Folger recently acquired a 1995 version of The Tempest by London book artist Sue Doggett that complicates the distinction. Readers of this one-of-a-kind book encounter Shakespeare’s text through Doggett’s artistry, where her choices of paper, lettering, imagery, texture, and color help interpret the selected scenes.… Continue Reading

Browsing the #wunderkammer

One of the great things about running the @FolgerResearch twitter account is pulling together the Wednesday Wunderkammer from the Folger Digital Image Collection. It’s a chance for me to explore what’s in the constantly growing collection, making new discoveries and highlighting some of the things that catch my eye. It’s a different sort of interaction with the Folger’s collections than I usually have.… Continue Reading

Much Ado about Eighty-Two

Seventy-nine.  In the same year the Folger Shakespeare Library turns seventy-nine years old, it updates a number that since the founding of the library has helped define the strength of its collection. It’s the number that was found on all the brochures, ads, encyclopedia articles, and websites.  Seventy-nine was, until a few months ago, the official number of First Folios held at the Folger.… Continue Reading

Welcome to The Collation

For many people, the copier is probably the first place they first encounter the idea of collating. Do you want the copier to collate your 50 copies of that 3-page document? Or do you want to turn your 3 piles of 50 pages into 50 piles of 3 pages by hand? That might be the most common usage, but it’s not why we wanted to call this new publication The Collation.… Continue Reading