The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Experiments with early modern manuscripts and computer-aided transcription

Guest post by Minyue Dai, Carrie Yang, Reeve Ingle, and Meaghan J. Brown. Hundreds of years ago, scholars might spend hours in a library searching through thousands of pages to find a useful paragraph.Things get much easier when we can work with digitized text. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) systems can automatically recognize text on images—such as printed books, handwritten letters, and photos—and convert it to a readable and editable digital format.… Continue Reading

Happy 500th Birthday!

On a recent tour, I was showing a book published in 1518, and mentioned that clearly we were celebrating its 500th birthday by showing it off to a group of very appreciative folks. But that got me thinking—what other books in our collection turn 500 years old this year? 500 is a rather significant number. So let’s take a look at some of the cohort of books in our collection that have been around for half a millenium.… Continue Reading

About that frontispiece portrait of Hannah Woolley….

I was delighted by the range of responses we got for last week’s Crocodile post on the identity of the woman in the engraving: Catherine of Braganza, Cleopatra, Lady Frances Egerton, Elizabeth Nash nee Hall (Shakespeare’s grand-daughter), Hannah Woolley, and Sarah Gilly. The answer: None of the above, and some of the above. Sarah Gilly? Some surviving impressions of this portrait have the inscription “The Effigies of M:trs Sarah Gilly,” as does the one above. … Continue Reading


Early Modern Digital Texts: a link roundup

The early modern textual landscape is broad and varied online, from full-text collections focused on a single genre or area of research, to in-depth examinations of the history of a famous text. In this post, we’ll explore a few of the online projects that aim to provide insight into early modern texts—and full texts for reading: some at scale and some in intimate detail.… Continue Reading

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