The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

A “lost” drawing by Ellen Terry

Is it possible to lose something you never had? The other day I managed to “lose” a 1905 sketch of a theater interior by actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928). I had caught a glimpse of it when sorting through a small group of recently acquired letters, and was looking forward to having a closer look later. As far as I could tell in a glance, it was either a rough sketch looking out from the stage, like this 1768 engraving of the Amsterdam Schouwburg by Simon Fokke (1712-1784): …or it was a rough sketch looking towards the stage, like Simon Fokke’s companion engraving of the same theater: I didn’t want to interrupt my sorting, though, so anticipation about the mystery theater kept building.… Continue Reading

The Drury Lane printshop

Jeffrey Meade’s guess is correct: this type inventory includes a great variety of large sized type. It belongs to a longer document made in June 1819 recording the furniture of the Theatre Royal at Drury Lane when the theater was put for sale by its Company of Proprietors (Folger MS W.b.383). Drury Lane was acquired later that year by the actor and manager Robert William Elliston.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: August 2018

This month’s Crocodile Mystery is about an inventory of typefaces found in a printshop. Can anyone guess in what type of printing business they would have been used? As always, leave your guesses and thoughts in the comments below, and we’ll be back next week with the answer.… Continue Reading

Under Cover: Forged Bindings on Display at the Folger

Our latest exhibition, Form and Function: the Genius of the Book, provides visitors with a true visual feast. Offering a wide array of different types of bindings from the Folger collections, exhibition attendees will learn about the techniques and materials historically used to cover books and make them functional objects. I’m fascinated by the internal structure of the sewing, but am forced to admit that my favorite part of this exhibition is the decoration on the covers.… Continue Reading

Announcing a New Fellowship for Before “Farm to Table”: Early Modern Foodways and Cultures

The Folger Institute is excited to announce a fellowship as part of Before Farm to Table: Early Modern Foodways and Cultures, the inaugural project of the Folger Institute’s Mellon initiative in collaborative research. Each Before “Farm to Table” fellow will be awarded $10,000 for work in the Folger collections on topics related to early modern food and foodways in the British world, broadly conceived.… Continue Reading

Dancing Skeletons and Human Hair: Remembrance, Memento Mori, and Material Culture

A guest post by Catherine Elliott Tisdale How do you remember loved ones who have passed away or family members who have scattered across the four winds? Today if we lose someone, we turn to photos, family films, emails, texts, voicemails, screenshots from Skype or Facetime, letters, birthday cards, Facebook profiles (there are currently 30 million active “Remembrance” profiles for the deceased and counting), and of course, the memories and stories we share with one another.… Continue Reading

What is Lost is Found Again: the Lost Plays Database

We had one answer right on the money for this July’s Crocodile Mystery—each of the images featured evidence of lost plays. The first image is a scrap from the Henslowe papers, recording a payment for John Day for the third part of The Blind Beggar. The second image shows a payment for the performance of Sir John Oldcastle (probably not the one spuriously attributed to Shakespeare, but a later play) before the King and Queen on March 12, 1630/1.… Continue Reading


Written in the Margent: Frances Wolfreston Revealed

A guest post by Sarah Lindenbaum “And what obscured in this fair volume lies / Find written in the margent of his eyes” (Romeo and Juliet, 1.3.87–88) Recently, two Shakespeare quartos held by the Folger Shakespeare Library were determined to likely be from the library of early modern reader Frances Wolfreston. The books themselves—copy 4 of the fifth quarto of Romeo and Juliet (1637) and a 1636 edition of Venus and Adonis—have been digitized through LUNA and are meticulously cataloged.… Continue Reading

A Pamphlet War in England, 1641-1643

A guest post by Brittney Washington Since my time as the 2017-2018 Nadia Sophie Seiler Rare Materials Resident is quickly approaching an end, I’ve been taking some time to look back on what I’ve learned about the amazing collection here at the Folger Shakespeare Library. My work focused specifically on cataloging printed materials found in the Wing bibliography (known formally as Short title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English books printed in other countries, 1641-1700).… Continue Reading

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