The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery

“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

Marks on Bindings

Thank you for your witty guesses to this month’s Crocodile, they are great! I also need to make a disclaimer: I am far from having collected enough evidence to answer this mystery, so like you, I only have guesses to offer and they may not be as funny as yours… Like many of you, I’m leaning towards the hypothesis that this book was used as a board mat to cut something (most likely paper).… Continue Reading

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

We’ve come full circle—it’s (almost) March again. Or maybe it’s always been March? Instead of breaking your brain wondering how that can possibly be, here’s a new crocodile mystery to ponder: can you guess what happened to this binding and why there are cuts on it? Leave your guesses below and as always, we’ll be back next week with the answer.… Continue Reading

Fortune’s Fools: early tarot cards

As several of you guessed last week, this month’s crocodile mystery showed an early tarot card. When treating a copy of a 1673 edition of Vincent Reboul’s “Le Pelerinage de S. Maximin,” Folger conservators discovered two tarot cards used to reinforce its binding.  I came across these cards, which were given their own call numbers and catalog entry when they were removed, some years ago and snapped this photo.… Continue Reading