The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery

Don’t try this at home (unless you are a professional brewer)

Here’s a little transcription exercise for our Crocodile readers: This is the title of a recipe in a book of culinary and medical receipts compiled between approximately 1675 and 1750 by a few generations of related women: Rose Kendall and Ann (Kendall) Cater of Kempstone, Bedfordshire, 1682; Elizabeth Clarke; and Anna Maria Wentworth of Wolley, Yorkshire, whose grandfather was Giles Clarke of Lyons Inn, London, and who later married Peter Bold of Bold Hall, Lancashire, 1725/26 (I’ve taken this information directly from the Hamnet record).… Continue Reading

Is that bleed-through?

In some ways, this image is a perfectly ordinary one (well, ordinary if it’s possible to think of an autograph manuscript of Mary Wroth’s important sonnet sequence Pamphilia to Amphilanthus [Folger V.a.104] as ordinary): Heather Wolfe was showing this image to the participants of the Folger Institute’s recent summer NEH institute, Early Modern Digital Agendas, as part of a transcription exercise.… Continue Reading

It’s the details thnt matter

There were two odd things happening in last week’s crocodile mystery, which featured an opening from the first English edition of Nicolàs Monardes’s Joyfull newes out of the newe founde worlde (STC 18005). The first was the easier to spot, assuming you paid attention to the information at the top of the page that we don’t usually pay attention to. In the headline (that bit of text that runs across the top of a page usually identifying the book or section of the book being read), there was a “thnt” instead of “that” on the left-hand side of the opening.… Continue Reading


Annotating and collaborating

This month’s crocodile mystery was, as Andrew Keener quickly identified, an image from Gabriel Harvey’s copy of Lodovico Domenichi’s Facetie and (Folger H.a.2): There is a lot that could be said about Gabriel Harvey and his habits of reading.  He was a scholar, a writer, and a prolific reader who heavily annotated his books, about 200 of which survive (the Folger holds seven of his annotated books).… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: June 2013

The last few crocodile mysteries have zoomed in on details. Here, for a change of pace, we’re zooming out to a full-page spread: In the past crocodiles have been about categories of objects, not necessarily the specifics. But a few of you might recognize exactly what this is and who is responsible for it, and you can leave those answers in the comments below.… Continue Reading

Pen facsimiles of early print

As the commenters on last week’s crocodile guessed, the mystery image showed writing masquerading as print or, to use the more formal term, a pen facsimile (click on any of the images in the post to enlarge them): It’s telling that two of the three guesses focused not on the blackletter but on the roman font and the decorated initial. Both of those aspects, I think, are easier to spot as being somehow “off” in comparison to what we expect from print.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: May 2013

Another month, another mystery for your riddling. What might be going on in this image? I’m not asking you to identify the text but to look at it and speculate on what we might see and say about it. Click on the image to enlarge it (you’ll need to click twice, once to open it in and again to zoom in on it), leave your comments below, and come back next week when the answer is revealed!… Continue Reading

Secret histories of books

This month’s crocodile mystery was a bit more challenging than recent ones (perhaps not helped by my cryptic “suitable for April” introduction), but Aaron Pratt guessed the gist of it: the image was a detail of a page printed in black, usually referred to as a mourning page. Here is the full context, with the bit we were looking at taken from the middle of the left-hand page:… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: April 2013

Is April the cruellest month? If so, here’s a suitably dark crocodile mystery for you to solve: What is this and what might we learn from it? Your speculations are welcome in the comments, and the answer will appear later this week! UPDATE (10 April): Read the comments below for some thoughts that have been bandied about and some clues on what it might be.… Continue Reading