The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: December 2022

According to the fine print, The Collation‘s monthly Crocodile Mystery is a “series on identifying objects in our collection” so this mystery object sneaks in on a technicality. It is not part of the Folger collection, but it is in the collection’s physical space. What is it called, and what is it for? Let us know what you think in the Comments.… Continue Reading

An Italian Naturalist in England

Thank you for your guesses. “Aldrovandus” is indeed the first word of the sentence, “Gesner” is the last one. The whole sentence reads: “Aldrovandus does not take things vp pon trust alltogether so much as Gesner:” This transcription was produced by the amazing “Folger Ward Team,” made up of Folger staff and other volunteers, who are transcribing the complete set of Ward’s diaries.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: November 2022

This month crocodile mystery comes from John Ward’s diary, V.a. 291, volume 8, leaf 18v.   Can you decipher the highlighted text especially the first and last words of the sentence? Leave your attempts in the comments below and we’ll be back next week with the answer, and why we were thrilled to see it. (And if you’re among the group of people who have been transcribing John Ward for a while, maybe hold off on your guesses for a few days?)… Continue Reading


Frederick William MacMonnies, Shakespeare, circa 1895

Thanks for the great guesses about the object shown in the September Crocodile Mystery! Dawn Kiilani Hoffmann got it right. The photo shows the bottom of the bronze Shakespeare sculpture at the foot of the stairs from the Reading Room. The bronze base was cast separately from the statue itself, and the photo shows where large screws attach it to Shakespeare’s feet.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: September 2022

What manner o’ thing is this? Useless hint: like Antony’s eponymous crocodile, “It is shaped… like itself, and it is as broad as it hath breadth.” It does not, however, move “with it own organs.” Have a guess? Leave a comment and we’ll be back next week with more info.… Continue Reading

Stealing Signs

Thanks to everyone who shared their guesses on last week’s post and congratulations to those of you who guessed correctly! Sermo mirabilis: or the silent language by Charles de La Fin, London, 1693. Folger call number: L174 The mystery image comes from an instruction manual on sign language communication by Charles de La Fin entitled Sermo mirabilis: or the silent language.… Continue Reading


Caught Inky Handed: Fingerprints of Practitioners

Thank you for your suggestions regarding these fingerprints. They are, indeed, the marks of two different fingers with different patterns. I tend to think, like Elizabeth, that they are the marks of a middle finger and an index or a ring finger. The description of the page I wrote last week, which was based only on a photograph taken more than two years ago, turned out not to be entirely correct.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: July 2022

Whose fingerprint is it? Is it a reader’s, printer’s, or binder’s fingerprint? I’ve been asking myself this question since I saw this trace in a Reformation pamphlet . It is placed in the gutter of the page and it is of a dark brown color ink (rather than black). Any thoughts on this are welcomed.… Continue Reading