The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery


Paper Trades

Thank you for your insightful comments on our Crocodile Mystery, which I enjoyed reading as usual. My heartfelt thanks also to Andrew Hare, Supervisory East Asian Painting Conservator, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, for identifying the various papers and prints in the book; and to my Folger colleague Wenqi Han for locating a copy of the book Wan shou sheng dian chu ji: yi bai er shi juan.Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: September 2021

For folks on an academic calendar, we’d like to extend our best wishes and support for a safe, happy, and/or productive new year. For those who aren’t quite ready to come to grips with the fact that tomorrow is September already, we have here a nice distraction. Rather than ponder the turning of the seasons, turn your thoughts to this mystery image and tell us, if you can, what on earth is going on with this 17th century engraved folded plate??… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: August 2021

This month’s Crocodile post brings to mind the classic board game Guess Who? (19th century edition!). Does your person have a giant mustache? Yes. Are they wearing a crown? Yes… Do they look annoyed? YES! For those of who you might struggle with this one, here’s a clue: “he is an Englishman.” Lock in your guesses in the comments below and be sure to check back next week for the big reveal!… Continue Reading

Expurgation with decoration: type ornaments as replacement text

Thanks for the great comments on last week’s Crocodile Mystery. Everyone scores ten points, with full marks going to the two commenters who correctly identified the publication. It is, in fact, a block of nonsense that replaces an expurgated paragraph of text. I wish I could show you the whole page of the Folger copy, but unfortunately, the visual note-to-self shown here is all I’ve got until the Folger re-opens after major renovations.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: July 2021

This month’s Crocodile Mystery comes from a 17th-century publication: What’s going on in this photo? Please speculate, elucidate, and/or procrastinate in the “Comments” section. Also, in case you, like I, had misremembered the source of the catchphrase we use for our monthly WTF (“What-the-Folger”) post, “What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?” is a line from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, act 2, scene 7.… Continue Reading

Malicious teaseling: or how a simple reference question got complicated

We had seven excellent answers to the Crocodile, which included an image titled “Malice,” but not the text below it. The general consensus was that the cowering man was winding thread or wool off of a drop spindle. One of the great things about being a curator is that you get to meet all kinds of people doing all kinds of interesting research in areas that you know little about.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: June 2021

We’re back! Whew! After a few technical difficulties last month, we return to bring you another Crocodile Mystery. We’ll pause while the wild cheering dies down. Please consider the image below and tell us, if you can, what’s going on here? What is the person sitting on the basket doing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and we’ll be back next week with the answer!… Continue Reading

Play it again, Ham

As a Folger staff member, I am used to seeing Shakespeare’s face everywhere, but the image from this month’s Crocodile Mystery made even me do a double take. This month’s mystery was a stumper! The Hamlet behind Shakespeare/Yorick was Edwin “Eddie” Foy, a famous comic performer of the vaudeville era. Of all the roles available to a performer in Foy’s irreverent domain, it is curious that Hamlet is the one that haunts this jokester’s career.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: April 2021

Never smile at a crocodile…mystery, that is. Especially when Shakespeare looks this shocked. Which 20th century performer is holding Shakespeare’s terrified, Yorick-ified head? If you’re not too scared, leave your guesses in the comments below and come back next week for the answer!… Continue Reading