The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Crocodile-mystery

What are ancient coins doing at the Folger Shakespeare Library?

Thanks for the great guesses at the identity of the November 2019 Crocodile. It’s tempting to pick one at random and just run with it (“Why yes, it is King Lear’s lost button!”) but in fact, Robin Swope’s guess that it’s an old coin is correct. It is, in fact, a bronze prutah of Porcius Festus, Roman procurator of Judea. It’s dated the 5th year of Emperor Nero’s rule, which means it’s from 58 or 59 CE.… Continue Reading




“What’s in a Name?” or, Going Sideways

When, in Act 2 of William Shakespeare’s famous teen suicide play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet muses “[w]hat’s in a name? That which we call a rose / [b]y any other word would smell as sweet,” it’s lucky for her that she isn’t speaking to a librarian. Although her sentiment is poetic, we librarians prefer to be a bit more precise when it comes to terminology.… Continue Reading


“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: June 2019

Last month’s Crocodile Mystery asked you to name what the images had in common. This month we ask the opposite: what’s different? Click the image for a larger view. Much MUCH larger versions of both pictures are available, but we’re only interested in differences that can be spotted at this scale. Please do not attempt to count the leaves (or, if you do, please do not expect Folger staff to verify your count).… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: May 2019

Welcome to another Crocodile Mystery! This month, we ask that you look at the images below and tell us what they have in common. (Yes, we know there are many possible answers to this. Yes, we are looking for one in particular. And do excuse the blurriness; this is the last time we try to take zoomed in shots without a proper lens!)… Continue Reading


“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: March 2019

For the Crocodile of the month, we ask you to look at the title page (ignore the beautiful ink blot by the imprint) and colophon of this book in relation to its call number STC 4811. Is there something a bit unusual here? As always, leave your guesses in the comments and we’ll be back next week with the answer.… Continue Reading