The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Balancing information and expertise: vernacular guidance on bloodletting in early modern calendars and almanacs

A guest post by Mary Yearl The first calendar printed as a book in Europe was also the first to contain a printed image of a bloodletting man. This point alone is indicative of the importance bloodletting played in medieval and early modern regimens of health. There were other medical approaches that would have occupied a more central place in every day care (e.g.,… Continue Reading

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. He registers a particular anxiety about the potential for stinking up the place—and not with bad acting. Dear Wade, The basket of dresses has reached me safely; many thanks for it.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. 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? You know the heart-sick feeling of having them start to schlumph before you have time to set the first book down and stick your arm back into the gap?… 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

Postcards in the (home) archive: Brenda Putnam and Puck

a guest post by Stephen Grant This post, Dear Readers, is divided into three parts:  3 Kodak AZO postcards of Puck statue 3 Meriden Gravure Co. postcards of Puck statue 1 photograph of Brenda Putnam, Puck sculptor We start with 2 cards printed on Kodak AZO paper, similar to the ones of the 9 Gregory bas-reliefs you examined before.  What differences do we see between the two picture sides, Fig.… Continue Reading

A Cacique By Any Other Name

… Or, Etymologies in Translation, from the Caribbean to London A guest post by Valeria López Fadul The word “cacique”—a leader or lord among the people of the Caribbean islands—first appeared in an English book in 1555. Richard Eden’s translation of Peter Martyr of Angleria’s The Decades of the Newe World of West India introduced the island of Haiti to English-language readers.… Continue Reading

Liverpool delft transfer-printed tiles; or, theatrical tiles explain’d

Thank you for all of your guesses on last week’s Crocodile Mystery! As several folks correctly surmised, this image is pigment on ceramic! Specifically, it is on a Liverpool delft transfer-printed tile, seen here in full:  And if you’re completely confused by the phrase “Liverpool delft transfer-printed tile”, well, I don’t blame you. So let’s break it down: “tile” is pretty self-evident.… Continue Reading