The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

The Location of Plates in a Book

When consulting a book with plates (that is, inserted leaves printed separately from the text), it is best not to assume that they have been placed in the same location in all copies of the same edition nor that their location in the book reflects the one intended by the author or the publisher. In our copy of Hiob Ludolf’s book on the ancient Ethiopian language of Ge’ez, for example, the portrait of the Ethiopian abbot Gregory was inserted between leaves E1 and E2 (or pages 34-35): while in the Bavarian State Library copy, it is located before leaf A, after the preliminary leaves including the author’s preface.… Continue Reading

One page, four inscriptions, three households

A guest post by Rebecca Laroche I began transcribing Folger manuscript V.a.681 because I recognized from the dealer’s description the name of a family, the Shirleys, and its house, Staunton Harold; I had previously found another book owned by another female member of that house in my work on women’s ownership of herbals. At first glance, this relatively new acquisition into the Folger’s receipt book collection promises a door into that noble house of the late seventeenth century.… Continue Reading

British Book Illustrations

Good news, picture-seekers! If you’ve ever tried to search Luna for a picture of something specific, you’ve probably noticed that relatively few digital images match one-to-one with their source descriptions. For example, although a keyword search for “dog” will bring up depictions of dogs in single items from the art collection (like this one who seems to making good an escape, and this one who has stopped to smell the flowers), it will also bring up all 140 images of a manuscript that’s described as including recipes “for the bite of a mad dog.” It will not, however, bring up any of the seven pages depicting dogs in Edward Topsell’s Historie of foure-footed beastes: Topsell’s book has a lengthy catalog record, but the word “dog” does not appear anywhere in it.… Continue Reading

The evolution of collection practices: a case study

A guest post by Lauren Liebe There is nothing quite as exciting in archival research as stumbling upon an unexpected connection between two objects. When I called up L852 copy 3 and D2292, I had not realized that they shared a Folger case file number (indicating that they were both purchased by Henry and Emily Folger, likely around the same time); but even that information would not have told me that the two volumes, both sammelbands of Restoration-era drama, were part of a four-volume set.… Continue Reading

Mapping Shakespeare’s plays: an experiment

A guest post by Charles Webb Friends, Romans, Countrymen: lend me your eyes For the past eight months I have split my time between working at the Folger Shakespeare Library and at Dumbarton Oaks as a Dumbarton Oaks Humanities Fellow. I am fortunate to work as a part of the Digital Media and Publications team here at the Folger, where I have had the opportunity to define my own digital project this year.… Continue Reading

Uncancelling the cancelled: recovering obliterated owners of old books

Last week’s Crocodile showed a detail of a cancelled name on the title page of Folger STC 17132. Despite the parallel hatching that was used to conceal it, two Collation readers immediately identified Humphrey Dyson’s distinctive signature. The item note in the Hamnet record describes it as “inscription on t.p. crossed out and illegible,” but watch this space—Folger catalogers will soon update the record to reflect the fact that An answer to the vntruthes : published and printed in Spaine, in glorie of their supposed victorie atchieued against our English Nauie… (London: John Jackson for Thomas Cadman, 1589) was once part of Dyson’s library of 2,000 titles and roughly 6,000 broadsides.… Continue Reading


Almanacs as Underdogs

A guest post by Katherine Walker The Folger houses many impressive texts and manuscripts. So much so, in fact, that it is easy to overlook the library’s equally vast and provocative collection of less illustrious genres. These texts will not require heavy lifting or elaborate stands. No one will likely toss an envious glance your way as you peruse these uninspired quartos in the reading rooms.… Continue Reading

SAA? FSL!

UPDATE: The Reading Room will be open from 9 am – 4:30 pm on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Please note that the docent-led public tour of the space will still take place from noon to 1pm, as usual, so researchers who would find that disturbing are advised to plan a lunch break accordingly. Are you attending the Shakespeare Association of America’s 2019 annual conference in Washington D.C.… Continue Reading

Accounting for Relationships: the Drury Lane Financial Records

A guest post by Chelsea Phillips With the cherry trees blooming (almost), the sun shining (sometimes), and tax season looming, there is no more delightful time to consider the vagaries of 18th-century theatrical accounting practice. The Folger Shakespeare Library holds a wealth of financial records for the major theatres of 18th- and 19th-century London, and particularly for Drury Lane. Judith Milhous has provided an excellent overview of surviving financial records, and their utility for theatre historians.… Continue Reading