The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Cracks in Etched Plates

Originally, I was going to do a crocodile post about the binding of this architecture book by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau: But after I thought about it, it seemed more appropriate to talk about the prints in the book. Andrea Cawelti guessed right: the wavy lines on this image correspond to cracks in the plate, which retained ink and printed. Other prints in this book show the same type of defects: As well as some corresponding to cracks at the edge of the plate: Several prints also show plate scratches: and a certain ink smudginess: In addition to these blemishes, several plates have one-sided beveled edges: and one print shows a plate corner missing: Clearly something was wrong with the set of plates used for this book.… Continue Reading


A New Acquisition: from the workshop of the Naval Binder?

But upon the table—oh joy! the tailor gave a shout—there, where he had left plain cuttings of silk—there lay the most beautifullest coat and embroidered satin waistcoat that ever were worn by a Mayor of Gloucester. There were roses and pansies upon the facings of the coat; and the waistcoat was worked with poppies and corn-flowers. Beatrix Potter, The Tailor of Gloucester, 1903 On opening one of our new acquisitions, a bible in a fine Restoration binding, bound with a copy of the Book of Common Prayer and the Whole Book of Psalms, all I could think of was this scene from Beatrix Potter’s Tailor of Gloucester.… Continue Reading

Polyglot Poetics: Transnational Early Modern Literature

A guest post by Dr. Nigel Smith I am writing a transnational history of early modern European literature. Our inherited history of the different early modern vernacular languages and their literatures was fashioned through the lens of the 19th-century and earlier 20th-century nationalism, and this story is one of how each literature descended from the Greek and Roman classics via the Italian Renaissance.… Continue Reading

Was early modern writing paper expensive?

Many of us have repeated the assertion that writing paper in early modern England was expensive and scarce, but it has always bothered me. After hearing this fairly regularly in response to two common questions —“Why did people write on the endleaves of printed books?” and “Why are there no ‘Shakespeare manuscripts’?”—I started keeping track of paper prices in account books and bills and receipts to see if this was actually true.… Continue Reading

Announcing a New Folger-NACBS Short-Term Fellowship

The Folger Institute and the North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS) are delighted to announce a new fellowship for scholars of the British world who are working on topics from the early modern period through to the present day. While the Folger has long been a destination for early modernists, our hope is that its extraordinary eighteenth-, nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century collections will now become more visible to scholars of modern Britain and the British Empire.… Continue Reading

The Shakespeare stamps

As several philatelically-astute readers quickly identified, the portrait of Shakespeare shown in last week’s Crocodile mystery is from a stamp!     These one shilling stamps were issued annually for a number of years at the turn of the 20th century. Each stamp used the same image of Shakespeare, a depiction loosely adapted from his memorial in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, printed in a different color each year.… Continue Reading


Books of Offices

A guest post by Nicholas Popper The Folger has fourteen of an odd, unloved sort of manuscript that I’ve taken to calling “Books of Offices,” which exist in over a hundred versions throughout archives in the US and UK. Typically entitled with variations of “A survaye or Booke of Offices aswell of his Majesty’s Courts of Recorde as of his Majesty’s most noble household,” or “A collection of all the offices of England with their fees and allowance in the King’s Gift,” they differ markedly from the well-known humanist descriptions of English governance written by Thomas Smith and William Harrison.… Continue Reading

Book Reviews from the Royal Society

Book reviews are a staple of many academic journals. They are a way to learn about new books in the field and to see what your fellow scholars think of them. And they’ve been around for a really long time. In my recent work, I have been searching through the early issues of one of the first scientific journals, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (many of which are freely digitized and searchable by the Royal Society) and I was bemused to discover that book lists and reviews were part of this early journal almost from the get-go.… Continue Reading