The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Manuscripts

Warwick Castle Shakespeare Library

Whoof, it looks like the numbers and letters in this month’s Crocodile Mystery were a bit too cryptic! In this case, the alphanumeric collections are shelf marks. In particular, they are shelf marks from the Warwick Castle Shakespeare Library, ca. 1890. And what are they doing in the Folger’s collection? Well, pull up a chair and a cup of tea, because that’s a bit of a tale.… Continue Reading

Printed Pamphlets for the Witch of Wapping

During September of last year, while browsing digital resources in the London Metropolitan Archives, a familiar name caught my eye. It was a 1652 indictment from the Middlesex quarter sessions, which tried criminal cases, where a woman named Joan Peterson (or Micholson) was accused of murdering a wealthy older woman through witchcraft. The Folger has an interesting (and heartwrenching) document that I’ve shown before to visitors who are interested in witch trials: the lone such document in a group of letters related to the Lenthall and Warcup families, it appears to be a transfer, or warrant, describing the same woman.… Continue Reading

Slurrop! An ode to soup

In 1595, English writer William Fiston (or Phiston) produced a translation of a French book of manners for children. Topics included proper behavior that was important for Church and school, but also a section on table manners. Here, Fiston admonishes his readers: …beware thou soupe not thy pottage, but eate it leisurely with a spoone, without taking it into thy mouth greedily, forcibly drawing thy breath with it, as some clownes do use, sounding at the receipt of euery spoonefull Slurrop.… Continue Reading

George Goodwin, neo-Latin poet, identified as George Goodwin, rector of Moreton, Essex

Today’s Collation post is short and sweet, and courtesy of Heather Wolfe, the Folger’s Curator of Manuscripts. Heather is currently on sabbatical in the UK, having been awarded the 2021–22 Munby Fellowship at Cambridge University Library, but she still occasionally sends gems back to Folger catalogers. This particular gem, and permission to blog about it, arrived just in the nick of time: the post I’d planned to publish today turned out to require material that’s inaccessible during the Folger’s multi-year renovation.… Continue Reading

Trappings of the stage

Thanks to those who registered your guesses on our most recent Crocodile Mystery. All of the guesses gazed upward, when the answer actually lay underfoot. While these strange designs resemble theatrical lighting effects, they are, in fact, designs for stage trap doors. R.B. [Bayley] was not satisfied with the status quo. Here, we see a dissatisfied theater-worker write to theater impresario and actor Robert William Elliston to argue his perspective.… Continue Reading

Recipe Books, Plague Cures and the Circulation of Information

a guest post by Yann Ryan As well as its terrible consequences for health and mortality, plague in early modern England had a major impact on the communication and circulation of information. Movement was restricted, towns with suspected cases were put on severe lockdowns, and ships from places known to be ‘hot’ with the plague were held in ports for up to forty days (quarantined).… Continue Reading

The book thief

Today’s post is about a woman, Margaret Cotton, who allegedly stole a book in 1602. The book might have been a Bible, or it might have been Girolamo Ruscelli’s Secrets of Alexis, or it might have been a cheap sixpence pamphlet. A quick introduction to the characters and narrative of this small drama: Margaret Cotton lived on Market Hill in Cambridge, with her husband, Henry, a pewterer.… Continue Reading

The mystery of Humphrey Walcot’s grocery bill and early-modern popular numeracy

a guest post by Ray Schrire It is time for an unofficial Crocodile Mystery. Humphrey Walcot’s grocery bill. Folger, L.f.196 These are a few of my favorite items from the merchant Humphrey Walcot’s shopping list of May 8, 1601 (a bill I picked up semi-randomly from the Folger’s digital image collection): One pound and a quarter cherries 3 shillings 4 pence 2 pounds three quarters damsons 7 shillings 4 pence One pound and a half gooseberries 4 shillings One pound barberies 2 shillings 8 pence 2 pounds and a quarter pear plums 6 shillings 4 pounds paste of plums 16 shillings 4 pounds candied spices 24 shillings 5 pounds and a half marmalade [yummy!]… Continue Reading

Small Latin and Less Greek

with many thanks to Sara Schliep, Bob Tallaksen, Emily Wahl, Nicole Winard, and Heather Wolfe for their generous and careful assistance with this post. They are just a few of the folks who have been working on this project. Thank you for your thoughts on the Crocodile Mystery post last week—as several of you noted, there is both Greek and Latin text on the page.… Continue Reading

Camaraderie, congeniality, and collaboration: paleography at the Folger

a guest post by Morgan McMinn Research libraries and archives are often thought of in terms of their physical existence but those misconceptions were challenged by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. The Folger Shakespeare Library is more than the physical space it inhabits and the researchers working within it. The library is also a digital space available to scholars and enthusiasts of early modern texts, which is an environment open for collaboration.… Continue Reading