The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: July 2020

Welcome back for another Crocodile Mystery! As you enjoy this first week of July (really? really? Who said the calendar could do that?), spare some thoughts for this mystery image. What’s going on in this image? What are those letters and what might be missing from this image?  As always, if you’re so inclined, leave your guesses here in the comments and we’ll be back next week with more information!… Continue Reading


A red proof sheet used as printer’s waste

Thank you for your guesses on this month’s crocodile mystery. The leaf pictured here shows text from the Litany printed in red. The blank space is where the text in black would have been printed in a second press run. This leaf belongs to a set of four flyleaves—each with text from the Litany printed in red on one side only—located in the binding of a copy of The Image of Gouernance translated from the Greek by Thomas Eliot and printed by Thomas Berthelet in 1544.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: May 2020

Welcome to the May Crocodile Mystery! Take a look at this image: This sheet has been used as endpaper in a book (the image has been rotated to make the text more legible) but can you guess to what it was intended to be part of and used for? Leave your guesses in the comments below, and we’ll be back next week with more information!… Continue Reading

All the Purposes of a Library: a piece of blue ephemera

Thanks to all of you who participated in guessing for this month’s Crocodile Mystery! As some of you noted, it is a book bound in eighteenth-century waste paper, particularly waste paper related to a late eighteenth-century edition of the Cyclopaedia: or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences by Ephraim Chambers. The tricky part is figuring out exactly what kind of waste it is.… Continue Reading



“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: February 2020

Welcome back to our monthly Crocodile Mystery! For those of you (ahem) mystified by this designation for our reoccurring series of posts, take a look at the post where it was named! For the question this month, we’re returning to our roots and asking “what manner of thing is this?” aka what is going on here? what do you notice about the image below?… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: December 2019

Welcome to the final Crocodile Mystery of 2019! As we close out the year (and the decade!), we invite you to look at the image below and tell us, if you can, what on earth it’s talking about?! Leave your thoughts and guesses in the comments below, and we’ll be back next week with an explanation.… Continue Reading

What are ancient coins doing at the Folger Shakespeare Library?

Thanks for the great guesses at the identity of the November 2019 Crocodile. It’s tempting to pick one at random and just run with it (“Why yes, it is King Lear’s lost button!”) but in fact, Robin Swope’s guess that it’s an old coin is correct. It is, in fact, a bronze prutah of Porcius Festus, Roman procurator of Judea. It’s dated the 5th year of Emperor Nero’s rule, which means it’s from 58 or 59 CE.… Continue Reading