The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

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


Learning to Weep: Early Modern Readers Reading Saint Peters Complaint (1595)

A guest post by Clarissa Chenovick Devotional weeping was serious business in early modern England. In an impressive array of bestselling print sermons and spiritual treatises, preachers and writers of varied religious persuasions exhort their hearers and readers to weep, sigh, and groan over their sins, and their audiences seem to have complied—or tried to comply—-with enthusiasm. We are familiar with the idea that medieval and Counter-Reformation Catholics embraced bodily expressions of penitence, including intensive weeping, but early modern Protestants also emphasize the value of devotional weeping.… Continue Reading

Henry Clay Folger’s Deltiological Profile, Part I

A guest post by Stephen Grant Like Emily Jordan Folger, Henry Clay Folger manifests his deltiological profile in two ways. First, he purchases picture postcards and sends them to his wife when he is on business trips. I found no evidence that he sends postcards to anyone else but Emily. Secondly, Henry’s interest in postcards is one way for him to boost his Shakespeariana collection.… Continue Reading

Early modern straws; or, quills are not just for writing

This post is brought to you by John Ward, who observed in the 1660s that a good way to “avoid drinking too much Beer” is to “suck itt in with a quill.” While we tend to think of quills quite narrowly as writing implements, quills in fact had many uses in early modern England. Because they were hollow shafts made of sturdy waterproof keratin, which is perfect for storing and conveying air, liquid, and powder, they had medical, culinary, recreational, and criminal applications as well.… Continue Reading