The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Manuscripts

Arithmetic is the Art of Computation

Yes, the answer to last week’s Crocodile mystery is as obvious as it seemed. We were looking for a number which unites the table, the fractions, and the superfluous but artful penmanship. Answer: 60, of course! What we are actually looking at here is nothing more than a simple division sum from the 17th century where A = 1/2 = 30, B = 1/4 = 15, C = 1/5 = 12, D = 1/3 = 20, E = 1/6 = 10.… Continue Reading

‘I Grapple him to my Soul with hooks of Steel’

I’m sure all of our readers know that moment when you’re looking for one thing but find something else entirely (some call it serendipity—I just call it research). Such as doing a Name Browse in Hamnet for “Adams” (I believe at the time I was looking for something edited by our former director, Joseph Quincy Adams), and discovering the heading “Adams, Abigail, 1744-1818, correspondent.”… Continue Reading

Marginal calculations; or, how old is that book?

I’d like to make a pitch for recording a specific type of manuscript annotation in printed books and manuscripts: the “book age calculation.” These calculations turn up frequently on pastedowns and endleaves, and sometimes right in the middle of texts. They are usually in pencil, but sometimes appear in ink as well, as in this example from last week’s Crocodile.… Continue Reading

Tagging manuscripts: how much is too much?

When it comes to the subject of tagging or encoding manuscript transcriptions in XML (extensible markup language) for Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO), two important questions are how much should we tag and when should we do it. With thousands of pages from a variety of genres, the “how much” question is a big one. For example, should tags be used to provide information about ink color, shifts in hand, size or ornamentation of letters, illustrations, marginalia, flourishes, indentations, spacing, symbols, quotations, layout, structure, lines, paper material, historical/literary connections, etymology, smudges, etc.,… Continue Reading

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

There is a place in the north Atlantic Ocean where emerald waters and sandy shores await your toes—at least, according to a 2015 holiday brochure on Barbados. The royalist Richard Ligon scarpered there in 1647 after backing the losing side during the English Civil wars (1642–1649) and finding himself a “stranger in my owne Country.” Three years later he returned to England and wrote about his escapades in A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados, first published in 1657.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: May 2015

This month’s crocodile is more of a challenge than a mystery. We are looking for paleographer beginners and lifers to have a stab at these lines and tell us the truth about sugar. If you think you know whose handwriting this is, even better … Please leave your answers in the comments below. You don’t need to worry about transcription conventions, but if you’d like, you can consult the transcription guidelines we follow on The Collation.… Continue Reading

Golden quills and paleography skills

In my last post about EMMO‘s progress, I briefly mentioned Practical Paleography or “PracPaleo,” our intentionally relaxed, no-registration-required introduction to transcribing secretary hand for readers and staff at the Folger Shakespeare Library. This time around, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the notable and versatile results of this new initiative. Since paleography has usually been taught at the Folger in an intensive, controlled class format—a group of regular participants meeting on a set schedule—this series of ten one-hour sessions, each one optional, meeting every other week with an always changing set of participants was a bit of an experiment to see how—or if—paleography could work in such a decidedly different configuration.… Continue Reading

Early modern eyebrow interpretation, or what it means to have a unibrow

While showing the Researching the Archive seminar some examples of manuscript receipt books a couple of weeks ago (randomly selected after doing a quick “form/genre” in Hamnet on the genre terms “Medical formularies” and “Cookbooks”), I was tickled to come across a section of Folger MS V.a.438 devoted to physiognomical characteristics; that is, an analysis of physical features of the face and head as they relate to a person’s character. … Continue Reading

EMMO: advancing and expanding

During the last few months, the Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) project has been gathering strength and reaching farther both inside the Folger Shakespeare Library and outside to individuals and organizations. These actions have translated into the passing of several key milestones, and members of the EMMO team are very excited about what this progress promises for 2015 and beyond. The Advanced Early Modern English Paleography Workshop, sponsored by EMMO and the Folger Institute in mid-December 2014 was a great success, with 16 early modern scholars from near and far joining together for a whirlwind week of transcribing activity.… Continue Reading

Acquisitions Night: February 5, 2015

Got your tickets yet? Acquisitions Night is just over a week away! This once-a-year event directly supports the growth of the collection by giving people the chance to “adopt” selected items acquired over the past year—that is, reimburse the purchase price to the library so that more material can be purchased. Attend in person to enjoy a buffet dinner, talk with Folger staff, and examine almost one hundred new items with your own eyes (you’re under no obligation to adopt).… Continue Reading