The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Europa into the Waves: John Dee and Meandering Research

a guest post by Dyani Taff Research feels nonlinear, like tracing a spiral, or a meandering river, or possibly like following ants’ pheromone trails, squiggly lines that crisscross each other and yet create a navigable chaos central to the ants’ communication. Sometime in 2017, I was reading Elizabeth Bellamy’s Dire Straits, and I learned that some scholars locate the earliest use of the phrase “British Empire” in a book by John Dee called General and Rare Memorials Pertayning to the Arte of Navigation, printed in 1577.… Continue Reading

Caught Inky Handed: Fingerprints of Practitioners

Thank you for your suggestions regarding these fingerprints. They are, indeed, the marks of two different fingers with different patterns. I tend to think, like Elizabeth, that they are the marks of a middle finger and an index or a ring finger. The description of the page I wrote last week, which was based only on a photograph taken more than two years ago, turned out not to be entirely correct.… Continue Reading

Happy Retirement, Hamnet!

After over a quarter century of devoted bibliographic service, the time has come to bid farewell to Hamnet, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s first OPAC (“Online Public Access Catalog”). Hamnet officially retires tonight, at the end of the last day of the Folger fiscal year. Earlier Collation posts (on 28 April and 1 June 2022) talk about the new Folger catalog, and you can visit it in person at,… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: July 2022

Whose fingerprint is it? Is it a reader’s, printer’s, or binder’s fingerprint? I’ve been asking myself this question since I saw this trace in a Reformation pamphlet . It is placed in the gutter of the page and it is of a dark brown color ink (rather than black). Any thoughts on this are welcomed.… Continue Reading

The Meaning/s of Massacre

a guest post by Georgie Lucas Content Note: Massacres, Assassination, Graphic Images In August 1572 thousands of French Protestants—known as Huguenots—were slaughtered in a surprise attack by their Catholic compatriots in Paris. The Huguenots had descended on the French capital to celebrate the wedding of the Catholic Princess Marguerite of the royal house of Valois to the Protestant Prince Henri of Navarre.… Continue Reading

Women Patrons as Playmakers

A guest post by Elizabeth Kolkovich In the summer of 1602, Alice Egerton, Countess of Derby, did something rather extraordinary. When Queen Elizabeth I visited her house, she brought to the forefront the female patrons who usually remained behind the scenes. As part of several days of pageantry and feasting, Alice hired the writer John Davies to devise a pageant—a mock “lottery”—celebrating the influential women who gathered at Harefield estate for the event.… Continue Reading