The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery

“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


Liverpool delft transfer-printed tiles; or, theatrical tiles explain’d

Thank you for all of your guesses on last week’s Crocodile Mystery! As several folks correctly surmised, this image is pigment on ceramic! Specifically, it is on a Liverpool delft transfer-printed tile, seen here in full:  And if you’re completely confused by the phrase “Liverpool delft transfer-printed tile”, well, I don’t blame you. So let’s break it down: “tile” is pretty self-evident.… Continue Reading

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

Ack! Nearly December already? Wasn’t it just March? (Isn’t it still March?) Guess that means it’s time for another Crocodile Mystery. Take a look at the image below. It’s not pencil on paper. It’s not oil on canvas. What is it? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments and we’ll be back next week with more information.… Continue Reading


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

Welcome to another Crocodile Mystery! This month we ask you to look at the image below and tell us what you think might be going on? What sort of questions does this image generate? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments below, and we’ll be back next week with more information.… Continue Reading

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

Welcome back for another Crocodile post! As you face the new challenges Fall brings to us, take a few moments to breathe out, and take a look at this month’s mystery. What’s going on in this image? Where is it from, and what does it show? Leave your guesses in the comments below and we’ll be back next week with more info!… Continue Reading

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

Some types of publication have fairly standard proportions. For example, you can be pretty sure this oblong volume isn’t a Bible or a play text: If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably a Berlemont-style international phrase book or a penmanship manual. As it happens, I don’t have to guess: it’s a penmanship manual, namely, an edition of Martin Billingsley’s The pen’s excellencie (call number: Folger STC 3062.3).… Continue Reading

“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