The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

An unfinished gold-tooled binding

July’s Crocodile mystery asked: why is this binding interesting? There are any number of answers, but the one I had in mind was: it’s unfinished. Last week’s picture shows the front cover of Folger call number STC 13051.3, the 1630 edition of A helpe to memory and discourse: with table-talke, as musicke to a banquet of wine. It’s 14 cm high, bound in dark blue goatskin, and has a strange-looking pattern of gold-tooled flowers and circles.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?” July 2016

This month’s mystery could have many different answers, but there’s one in particular we’re looking for. The question is simple: why is this binding interesting? Any ideas? Please share your answers in the comments, and check back next week to find out if any of them match the answer we have in mind.… Continue Reading

Music Manuscripts

Recently, I have found myself answering a number of reference questions concerning our musical holdings (a reference librarian manifestation of the frequency illusion perhaps?). Whatever the reason, it has been a nice reminder that some of our manuscript holdings contain more than traditional text. The Folger holds a great deal of music in manuscript form. The most complete source for the manuscript music is An Annotated Catalogue of the Music Manuscripts in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C.Continue Reading

Investigating a Bull’s Head Watermark

What would draw an eighteenth-century reader to an early sixteenth-century book, written in Latin, on venereal disease? The Folger Shakespeare Library’s copy of Ulrich von Hutten’s book De Guaici medicina et morbo gallico liber unus printed in 1531 by Johann Schöffer in Mainz includes interesting clues to answer such a question. First printed in 1519, De Guaici medicina was one of the first books dealing with venereal disease.… Continue Reading

A Pictorial Table of Contents

Last week’s Crocodile was a jumble of household instruments with numbers next to them. As our first commenter, Katie Will, correctly guessed, the detail was from the table of contents of a type of heraldic manuscript known as an Ordinary. An Ordinary is a collection of heraldic charges—geometric patterns, or depictions of animals, objects, or people—that can appear inside an escutcheon, or heraldic shield.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: June 2016

It’s the last day of the month, and our intrepid readers know what that means: mystery time! So for this month, we ask: why on earth would someone make a jumble of pictures of everyday items like this? And why all the numbers? As always, comment here with your thoughts and guesses, and we’ll be back next week with an explanation.… Continue Reading

What’s in a genre? Metadata, Controlled Vocabularies, and the Folger’s Digital Anthology

  Shakespeare’s plays are organized in the First Folio into three now familiar genre categories: Comedies, Tragedies, and Histories. Later scholars added a fourth, describing certain late plays like The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale that contain elements of both comedy and tragedy, along with fantastical features like magic, as “romance plays.” In organizing the 403 plays that make up the Folger’s Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama, we needed a few more than those four categories.… Continue Reading

Early Modern Edit-a-Thon

Have you noticed any new articles on Wikipedia lately? An average of 700-800 are added to the English-language Wikipedia each day. And recently, some of them were created right here at the Folger. On Friday, May 13th, the Folger held its first official edit-a-thon: despite the ominous date and intermittent thunderstorms outside, the Early Modern Edit-a-Thon was a success! Participating Folger staff were joined by visitors, including several members of Wikimedia DC who generously shared their knowledge with us, and together we edited and created about 15 articles on Shakespeare and the early modern period.… Continue Reading

Signature statements in book cataloging

Today’s post returns to the cliffhanger at the end of Tuesday’s Physical description in book cataloging overview: if [4], CXXII leaves : ill. ; 31 cm (fol.) forms a complete physical description in a library catalog, then what’s up with a4 A-O8 P10 and where does it fit in? a4 A-O8 P10 is an example of a signature statement, sometimes also called a collation (one of the many meanings of “collation” for which this blog is named).… Continue Reading

Physical description in book cataloging

Does a4 A-O8 P10 make perfect sense to you? If so, please read on anyway. This isn’t a post on how to decode a collational formula. It’s a post about what to expect (and what not to expect) in the “physical description” portion of a library catalog record for a book. In other words, the part that looks like this in a Hamnet record, taking the record for the 1513 Venetian edition of Macrobius’s Commentaries on the Dream of Scipio as an example: International Standard Bibliographic Description (yes, there is an international standard) calls this part of the record the Material Description Area.… Continue Reading