The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery






“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: January 2018

Happy Boxing Day! We’ve brought you another crocodile mystery to open with your holiday goodies. This month’s mystery comes in two forms and appears in two places. Tell us, if you would, what these mysterious numbers suggest to you?     As usual, leave your thoughts and guesses in the comments below and we’ll be back in the new year with an answer.… Continue Reading


Time writing

Chronograms—literally, “time writing”—are dates embedded within text. As such, they are a form of hidden writing called steganography: the encoded characters maintain their own value, but are hidden within a larger text. Easily calculable to those who know what they’re looking for, they still excite the thrill of uncovering secret meaning. That thrill was experienced by this cataloger when, for the first time ever, she came across a chronogram that had been previously unremarked.… Continue Reading


Dryden’s Virgil, Ogilby’s Virgil, and Aeneas’s nose job

First, a confession: this month’s Crocodile Mystery was originally going to pose a question along the lines of “What’s weird about this image?” or “What makes this picture especially interesting?” but I gave up. I couldn’t figure out how to phrase it in a way that wouldn’t, in fact, be saying “Try to guess what crucial piece of information is being deliberately witheld!” The longer I looked at the image, the stranger it appeared, so I figured asking for captions would make an interesting Crocodile Mystery, and you came through!… Continue Reading