The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery

The seven ages of man, rendered movingly

In my last post, I described this month’s crocodile mystery as more of a rhetorical device than a question to be answered: what does this box prompt us to imagine what might be? And what does it contain? Both a stage and a book. But it’s not just any stage and not just any book. The Globe Theatre is the setting for a miniature book that picks up on all the possibilities of staging:  “Presenting the Seven Ages of Man / by Mr William Shakespeare / As Rendered Movingly by Mrs.… Continue Reading

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

I’m a bit early with the March crocodile, but sometimes it’s hard not to wish February done. And so here’s another variation on our crocodile mystery theme, this time asking you not what an item is, but what it might be. It wouldn’t take long to guess that this is some sort of box, so I’m not going to ask what it is.… Continue Reading

a Henry for her time

So the short answer to last week’s crocodile mystery is that this is a picture of Gwen Lally in the role of Henry V: How did I know that’s who this was? Well, click on the image and you’ll be taken to the file in Luna, where the metadata clearly indicates that it is “Gwen Lally as Henry V” and the bottom of the image (which I trimmed off for the crocodile post) is labelled “Henry V.” But that’s about all the information it provides, aside from the call number “Scrapbook B.67.1.” Because the Folger Theatre is currently staging Henry V, I was looking through our digital image collection to see what images we had of actors in the role of Henry.… Continue Reading

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

Something a little bit different with this month’s crocodile mystery: this is an object that I both know and don’t know what it is. At one level, it’s not hard to figure out what is being depicted. But who and why and what to do with this depiction is a bit more complex, I think, and I haven’t quite worked it all out yet.… Continue Reading

A letter from Queen Anne to Buckingham locked with silk embroidery floss

No, it’s not Lady Gaga’s hairline or the frizz on one of those creepy troll dolls.  Last week’s crocodile mystery is in fact a close up of silk embroidery floss that had been tightly wrapped around a folded letter, with seals placed over the floss on the front and back of the packet to secure it. When the floss was cut to open the letter, the floss frayed, and the seals remained intact. … Continue Reading


Volvelles

As three of you immediately identified in your comments, last week’s crocodile mystery was the fastening in the center of a volvelle, holding the various layers in place and allowing them to turn: Volvelles are paper wheels that are fastened to a leaf so that the discs spin independently. Some of the earliest volvelles were used for prognostication; Ramon Llull is credited with bringing the volvelle to the West in the late thirteenth century for use in his Ars Magna.  … Continue Reading


Itty-bitty tab dividers

The main trick with November’s “crocodile” was having to figure out the scale. It looks at first glance like a woolly button on a pin-striped shirt: But when a ruler is included in the shot, you can see that the colorful bobble is only 3 mm in diameter: … Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: November edition

And now, for your viewing pleasure, we present this month’s crocodile mystery. What is it? How was it made? What size is it? Would it sell well as a postcard in the Folger gift shop? Please share your thoughts below, and don’t be shy.  In the spirit of the Folger’s current exhibition, Very Like a Whale, remember that things not only are, they also seem, evoke, relate, and conceal.… Continue Reading