The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery

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

embroidered bindings

So last week’s crocodile mystery was nailed by Aaron Pratt within a half-hour of my posting: what you see below is, as he notes, an embroidered binding depicting David and Goliath and covering a Book of Psalms, in this instance, one from 1639. … Continue Reading

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

Once again, given the vagaries of The Collation‘s schedule and upcoming federal holidays, I’m posting the next month’s crocodile mystery at the end of this month. So don’t worry about how quickly the year is flying by: it is still September for a few more days! Some of you will immediately recognize what category of object this is, so I invite additional speculations in the comments below about the nature of this object, its details, and what we might learn from studying it.… Continue Reading

Printer’s waste or endleaf?

Last week’s crocodile mystery concerned the nature of a fragment of paper used to repair a letter from Thomas Cromwell to Nicholas Wotton written in 1539. This mystery is probably not the first, or the last, time that our answers are not perfectly satisfactory. We offer some identifications, theories, hunches, and further questions, below. If you think we are on the wrong track, be sure to let us know! … Continue Reading

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

Don’t panic—it’s still August, but rather than wait until the middle of September to share the new crocodile mystery,  I’m going to share it now and Heather will discuss it next week. At initial glance, it’s pretty clear what’s illustrated below: an address leaf of a letter, in this case a newly acquired letter from Thomas Cromwell to Nicholas Wotton, 8 November  [1539].… Continue Reading

Deciphering signature marks

So, as those of you who have spent any time working with early modern printed books probably recognized, this month’s crocodile mystery focuses on signature marks. Below is the photo I posted last week, now with the signature mark circled in red: Signature marks are those letters, numbers, and sometimes symbols at the bottom of the first portion of gatherings to help binders assemble the sheets of a book into the right order.… Continue Reading

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

Like last month’s crocodile mystery, this one has two levels of answers. The first, of course, is to identify what genre of thing this is. The second is to offer explanations for why this genre and this instance might be worth discussing. I will clarify that what I’m focused on here is the last line of type on the page; I’ve cropped the image down so that we’re seeing only the bottom few inches of the entire page.… Continue Reading

Armorial bindings

The reveal to this month’s crocodile mystery isn’t much of a reveal; both John Overholt and Philip Allfrey posted the answer in last week’s comments. It’s the stamp that George Granville Leveson-Gower, the 1st Duke of Sutherland (1758-1833) used in his armorial bindings. … Continue Reading

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

Okay, folks, it’s time for another crocodile mystery. It’s pretty obvious, I think, what genre of thing this is (though do go ahead and identify it anyway), so let’s take this to the next level: what specifics can you supply about this particular example? Don’t forget that, as always, if you click on the image a larger version will open up in a new window; clicking on that image should enlarge it further, if need be.… Continue Reading