The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Shakespeare Land

As one reader quickly guessed, the photograph featured in last week’s crocodile post is part of an admission ticket to the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s burial place. This ticket is one window onto the growth of tourism in 19th-century Stratford-upon-Avon, and also highlights the importance of ephemera (printed materials such as tickets, programs, greeting cards, or souvenir stickers that are meant for very temporary use) in the study of history.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: October 2015

Here’s your crocodile mystery for October! As you can probably guess, the text below is only one line of a larger collection item. What kind of thing is the whole item an example of, and why is it in our collection? As always, post your comments and thoughts below, and we’ll be back with an explanation next week.… Continue Reading

“Beloveed Plays”: A Sammelband of 1680s Quartos & Its Readers

A Guest Post by Claire M. L. Bourne A major fringe benefit of systematically going through so many books (1,300+) at the Folger last year, looking for typographic conventions and experiments, was encountering traces of use and reading that have not been recorded in the copy-specific notes on Hamnet. Of all the books I consulted during my fellowship, B5326 (Copy 2), a sammelband of eight play quartos from the 1680s, has to be among my favorites.… Continue Reading

An Example of Printed Visual Marginalia

The Folger Shakespeare has recently acquired a copy of the 1706 English edition of the travel narrative A New Voyage to the North… (Folger 269- 090q), written by the French physician Pierre Martin de la Martinière (1637-1676?) and published posthumously around 1700. As the title indicates, the book was a sequel to an account of de la Martinière’s voyages to Nordic countries published in 1671.… Continue Reading

Printers and authors in 1659

John Ward’s sixteen notebooks, once they are fully transcribed for EMMO, are going to be an incredibly rich source for nearly everyone who thinks about or studies early modern England. Most people have heard about them because of John Ward’s references to Shakespeare in three volumes: Folger MSS V.a.292, V.a.294, and V.a.295. We’ll be showing one of the Shakespeare references in an upcoming exhibition at the Folger, Shakespeare, Life of an Icon.… Continue Reading

Arithmetic is the Art of Computation

Yes, the answer to last week’s Crocodile mystery is as obvious as it seemed. We were looking for a number which unites the table, the fractions, and the superfluous but artful penmanship. Answer: 60, of course! What we are actually looking at here is nothing more than a simple division sum from the 17th century where A = 1/2 = 30, B = 1/4 = 15, C = 1/5 = 12, D = 1/3 = 20, E = 1/6 = 10.… Continue Reading


Folger Tooltips: Making a spreadsheet from raw Hamnet data

Hamnet, the Folger’s online catalog, is more than just a searchable inventory of printed books, manuscripts, engravings, paintings, and other resources in the collection. It is also a giant data set, freely available for machine analysis. But there’s a catch: library catalog data is encoded in MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloging), the coelecanth of the digital world. Developed in the 1960s, this data standard is now a living fossil.… Continue Reading

Libraries ǂx Special collections ǂv Blogs

How do catalogers make library materials findable? The cataloging process has already been covered here at The Collation—identifying the item and describing its contents so that users and other catalogers alike can compare the book in the catalog record to the book in their hands or the book they want to retrieve from the stacks. At the Folger, we pay particular attention to the artifactual evidence of our items in addition to their contents, and this level of cataloging is enabled by the use of genre and form terms.… Continue Reading

‘I Grapple him to my Soul with hooks of Steel’

I’m sure all of our readers know that moment when you’re looking for one thing but find something else entirely (some call it serendipity—I just call it research). Such as doing a Name Browse in Hamnet for “Adams” (I believe at the time I was looking for something edited by our former director, Joseph Quincy Adams), and discovering the heading “Adams, Abigail, 1744-1818, correspondent.” I remember being bemused by this discovery, a little perplexed as to why we would have that in our collection, and filing its existence away for another time.… Continue Reading