The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Manuscripts

A newly uncovered presentation copy by Margaret Cavendish

Heather: The other day I received an email from the Conservation Lab with the subject line: “Annotation found on the verso of a lined frontispiece,” and a link to a couple of images, one taken under ultraviolet light. The conservators were preparing a book for the next Folger exhibition, Shakespeare’s Sisters: Voices of English and European Women Writers, 1500-1700, curated by Georgianna Ziegler and open February 3—May 20, 2012.… Continue Reading

Investigating the origins of a Folger manuscript

With this post we inaugurate a series by people working at the Folger as Interns. Classroom work and professional training never quite capture the true nature of the j – o – b. Therefore, for those pursuing advanced degrees in librarianship or museum studies, an internship or field study can be an extremely important way to gauge one’s aptitude and interest in the day-to-day work, and to strengthen knowledge and skills in areas not adequately covered in library or museum school programs.… Continue Reading

“What’s that letter?”: Searching for water amongst the leaves

A guest post by Folger Institute participant and short-term fellow Lehua Yim Sixteenth-century England was particularly formative in the long history of what “Britain” means for the peoples of that archipelago, as reformulations of political, legal, economic, and religious institutions added complexity to the webs of relationships that structured that society. Of particular interest to me are the shifts and innovations regarding rights to waters and lands in the history of real property.… Continue Reading

Manuscript reunions

Sometimes we come across a manuscript on the market that looks vaguely familiar, and sends us scrambling to Hamnet to figure out why. I was reminded of this last week when a bookseller offered us a “naval return for Queen Elizabeth I signed by Fulke Greville” (in his capacity as Treasurer of the Navy), consisting of the naval charges at Deptford for September 1600.… Continue Reading

Marginalizing heralds and antiquaries

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a period of major transition for English heralds, as the number of arms being granted increased exponentially, requiring improved methods of record-keeping. Their job was both ceremonial (ordering and keeping score at tournaments, ordering funerals) and archival (granting and confirming coats of arms, carrying out visitation to determine the accuracy of the pedigrees and coats of arms that people claimed, and compiling dictionaries of arms to prevent duplication).… Continue Reading

Watermarks & hidden collections

Hidden collections—that is, collections that are undescribed or underdescribed—are exceedingly common in libraries and archives. Until recently, the manuscript and printed paper that make up the E. Williams watermark collection, including papers of the Hale family of King’s Walden and other papers was an example of a hidden collection. In contrast with completely undescribed collections, however, a minimal description of one element of the materials did exist: in this case, a handlist provided by the bookseller describing watermark features of the paper.… Continue Reading

Interrogating a hermit

Three months ago the Folger was lucky enough to acquire a letter from Thomas Cromwell to George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury. I say lucky because while roughly 350 letters from Cromwell survive, almost all of them are at either the British Library or the National Archives in Kew, and only one other letter by him has been sold at auction in over 30 years.… Continue Reading

From printing house to coffee house

Last Friday a much-anticipated package arrived at the Folger, containing a series of fifteen deeds describing the successive ownership of two adjacent properties on Fleet Street (“The King’s Highway”) in London from 1543 to 1735. Deeds can be tedious to muddle through, repetitive and full of arcane terminology. And the Folger doesn’t actively acquire deeds unless they directly relate to a collection strength, but when these were offered to us by a London bookseller, we couldn’t say no.… Continue Reading