The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Trappings of the stage

Thanks to those who registered your guesses on our most recent Crocodile Mystery. All of the guesses gazed upward, when the answer actually lay underfoot. While these strange designs resemble theatrical lighting effects, they are, in fact, designs for stage trap doors. R.B. [Bayley] was not satisfied with the status quo. Here, we see a dissatisfied theater-worker write to theater impresario and actor Robert William Elliston to argue his perspective.… Continue Reading


Postcards in the (home) archive: 1939

a guest post by Stephen Grant Printed on picture side: THE FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY, WASHINGTON, D. C. 39686 Printed on address side: Published by B. S. Reynolds Co., Washington, D.C. 39686 THE FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY The Folger Library was bequeathed to the Trustees of Amherst College by Henry Clay Folger of the Amherst class of 1879, and has a $10,000,000 endowment fund.… Continue Reading

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