The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Publishing Against the King: French Civil War Pamphlets

From 1648 to 1653 a civil war, known as the Fronde, raged in France, with the nobility and most of the people of France on one side, and the royal government under the child-king Louis XIV and his hated chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin, on the other. The main cause of this civil war was resentment towards the royal government’s encroachment on ancient liberties and increasing taxation, but the Frondeurs were divided into factions and ultimately defeated.… Continue Reading

Tagging manuscripts: how much is too much?

When it comes to the subject of tagging or encoding manuscript transcriptions in XML (extensible markup language) for Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO), two important questions are how much should we tag and when should we do it. With thousands of pages from a variety of genres, the “how much” question is a big one. For example, should tags be used to provide information about ink color, shifts in hand, size or ornamentation of letters, illustrations, marginalia, flourishes, indentations, spacing, symbols, quotations, layout, structure, lines, paper material, historical/literary connections, etymology, smudges, etc., etc.?… Continue Reading

State Papers Online: tips and tricks, part 1

The Calendar of State Papers is a well-known historical resource for early modernists across a variety of disciplines. This “calendar,” or register, documents the workings of the British government during the reigns of the Tudors and Stuarts, 1509–1714. For decades, researchers used printed volumes of these calendars to search for the existence of specific documents. With the advent of online databases, and the cooperation of repositories such as the British Library and National Archives (where many of the documents recorded by the calendars are preserved), a database called the State Papers Online was created.… Continue Reading

The mystery of gridded paper

A guest post by Austin Plann Curley For a blank sheet of paper, we thought this one was pretty interesting. But before we get to what exactly it is, let’s refresh our understanding of how paper is made. Prior to the 19th century all paper was made by hand using a mold and a deckle. In the West the papermaker’s mold was a wooden frame with a woven mesh of copper wire.… Continue Reading

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

A new month and a new mystery! What can you tell us about this? What is it and why is it interesting? You know the drill: leave us your thoughts in the comments below, and come back next week for the reveal! Update 5/30: A commenter asked about watermarks, so here is an image of the full leaf. (Or at least more of the leaf—I didn’t take the photo so I’m not entirely sure of all the context.… Continue Reading

A Renaissance best-seller of love and action

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s 26 copies of various editions of Lodovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso attest to its success during the 16th and early 17th centuries (a success that continued for much longer, but that is another story).  An epic poem replete with love and action, Orlando Furioso was an international bestseller worth having in one’s library even if one did not read it.… Continue Reading

Meet the Hamnet HBCN (“Handy Butt-Cover Note”)

When libraries replaced card catalogs with computer catalogs, researchers lost a crucial piece of information: an at-glance indication of relative trustworthiness. Consider this thin slip of paper from the Folger’s card catalog, for example: Looks fairly preliminary, right? That’s because it is. This is an “accession slip” (referred to in some libraries as a “flimsy”). It was typed up in the Acquisitions Department, then filed in the card catalog as a place-holder until the item could be cataloged.… Continue Reading

“A superfluous luxury”: the St. Dunstan illuminated editions

If you’re a regular user of the internet, you probably saw a multitude of images posted for the Bard’s birthday a few weeks ago. I can almost guarantee, though, that few were as opulent as the contribution from the University of Missouri Libraries Special Collections Tumblr: a beautiful leather-bound set of Shakespeare’s Sonnets with some striking illuminations. On a whim, I did a quick search to see if the Folger also had a copy of this set—and we do!… Continue Reading

Guten Tag! Como vai? Parlez-vous français?

Spring is Conference Season for many academics, allowing us to travel far and wide for our academic and professional enrichment. Sometimes, we find ourselves traveling in places where the local language is not one of the ones we are most comfortable with. (Until someone invents a time machine, my relative fluency in classical Latin isn’t going to help me order dinner, is it?) So what’s a traveling scholar to do?… Continue Reading

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

There is a place in the north Atlantic Ocean where emerald waters and sandy shores await your toes—at least, according to a 2015 holiday brochure on Barbados. The royalist Richard Ligon scarpered there in 1647 after backing the losing side during the English Civil wars (1642–1649) and finding himself a “stranger in my owne Country.” Three years later he returned to England and wrote about his escapades in A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados, first published in 1657.… Continue Reading