The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

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

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: December 2021

For our final Crocodile Mystery of the year, here’s a paleographical challenge. What’s going on here, and why might the Crocodile find it interesting? (Disclaimer: This is not a Folger manuscript). Leave your thoughts, guesses, and attempts at transcriptions in the comments below and we’ll be back next week with more info!… Continue Reading

A Glimpse into the Cultural History of Fragaria

a guest post by Jennie Youssef When the term of my Folger fellowship began, I had made some headway in my research for a dissertation chapter on the foodway of strawberries. The strawberry’s symbolic significance in medieval art and early modern literary and dramatic texts has been extensively analyzed. To cite well-known dramatic examples from Shakespeare’s England—in Othello (first staged in 1604), Desdemona’s handkerchief, embroidered with strawberries, serves as a nod to the popularity of a domestic pastime and has also been read as symbolic of her virginity.… 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

What’s in a playbill?

The Folger collection includes approximately 250,000 playbills, the single-sheet precursors of today’s multi-page theater programs. By the 1750s, London playbills had developed the standard layout you see in this blog post. They presented an evening’s entertainment as a sort of theatrical equivalent to a modern restaurant posting their daily bill of fare, where a repertoire of various dishes for each course appears in a different combination every night.… Continue Reading