The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Fortune’s Fools: early tarot cards

As several of you guessed last week, this month’s crocodile mystery showed an early tarot card. When treating a copy of a 1673 edition of Vincent Reboul’s “Le Pelerinage de S. Maximin,” Folger conservators discovered two tarot cards used to reinforce its binding.  I came across these cards, which were given their own call numbers and catalog entry when they were removed, some years ago and snapped this photo.… Continue Reading


This Post Stinks, or, ‘I hope that the stuff will not smell too vilely’

John Masefield has a burning question he needs answered. Literally. Writing from his home Hill Crest in Boar’s Hill, Oxford, the Poet Laureate asks theater production veteran Allan Wade a crucial question about staging his home theatrical production of Macbeth.1 He registers a particular anxiety about the potential for stinking up the place—and not with bad acting. Autograph letter signed from John Masefield, Oxford, to Wade [manuscript], 19th or 20th century, [after 1917].… Continue Reading

Touching Tusser

A guest post by Andy Crow “As to the bindings, the plain crushed levant looks all right, but when you send me my copy, I would like it, please, in sheep—about the tint of a ripe chestnut. That is fittest for Tusser.” Rudyard Kipling, “Benediction” to Thomas Tusser, Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry (London: James Tregaskis & Son, 1931) Rudyard Kipling’s request for a sheepskin-bound copy of Thomas Tusser’s Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry was a request for a piece of the land.… Continue Reading

Using cardboard spacers to fill gaps on the shelf

Sometimes the simplest tools are the best. This post is a tribute to the humble hunk of folded cardboard.1 Cardboard spacer filling the gap on the shelf while two large volumes are in use. All photos are by me, Erin Blake. You know how when you take a book off the shelf, you stare at the empty space for a fraction of a second, waiting to see if the books on either side stay standing-up?… Continue Reading

The Art of the Prompt Book

Most library visitors to the Folger expect us to have books in our collections. Some know that we also have art, manuscripts, and even objects. Yet, any exploration into our collections means that researchers will inevitably encounter an item that could be described as including printed, manuscript, and even artistic content, all in one. Heather Wolfe has eloquently described such “hybrid” materials as “consist[ing] of a mixture of thematically-connected printed, manuscript, and graphic material gathered from a variety of sources into a single binding.”… Continue Reading