The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Portrait of a Young African Woman

A guest post by Alicia Meyer The Folger Shakespeare Library houses three etchings of African diasporic people by Wenceslaus Hollar. While we may never know the identities of the figures in these images, Hollar’s artistic choices direct how we see and remember seventeenth-century black lives. In this set of images, the vulnerabilities of youth, gender, and rank, as well as skin color, refract the figures’ agency and influence the viewer’s gaze to different ends.… Continue Reading

Drawn by Hayman, etched by Gravelot, preserved in Folger ART Vol. b72

For the June 2019 “Crocodile Mystery” we asked you to spot the differences between these two pictures: The main difference, of course, is that one is pretty much the reverse of the other. There are significant compositional differences too, though: Background figures in A do not appear in B Running man holds out an open palm in A and a sword in B Scabbards and legs in A make oblique angles; in B they are parallel or near-parallel (they’re also moved so that figures in both A and B can draw their swords right-handed).… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: June 2019

Last month’s Crocodile Mystery asked you to name what the images had in common. This month we ask the opposite: what’s different? Click the image for a larger view. Much MUCH larger versions of both pictures are available, but we’re only interested in differences that can be spotted at this scale. Please do not attempt to count the leaves (or, if you do, please do not expect Folger staff to verify your count).… Continue Reading

A Wild and Woolley Week

A guest post by the Before ‘Farm to Table’ team This week the Before ‘Farm to Table’: Early Modern Foodways and Cultures team turned their collective attention to Hannah Woolley (or Wolley), a British woman writer who was among the first women in early modern Britain to earn a living by her writing. She wrote across various genres during her life, providing readers with instructions on how to cook, how to perform household tasks, and how to manage employees.… Continue Reading

Snakes! on a … book?

“What is that?” someone asks, pointing to the corner of one of the books open for display. “This? Oh, it’s a book snake. Most useful object in the library!” I reply. This conversation happens once in nearly every book display I do. People are fascinated by these little objects that are so ubiquitous in a special collection reading room that many of us hardly notice them.… Continue Reading

“Run away”: a life in 78 words

A guest post by Simon Newman His name was Quoshey [sic], an Akan day name that tells us he was quite likely born on a Sunday on the Gold Coast of West Africa. But on Christmas Day 1700 Quashey was a frightened teenager who was a long, long way from home, as this short newspaper advertisement reveals. A Negro, named Quoshey, aged about 16 years, belonging to Capt.… Continue Reading

To bind: Ligatures in Aldine Type

Yes, indeed. As many of you quickly identified, each of the images in this month’s mystery post contain at least one ligature. In fact, all of the images are from a single set of type: the Aldine italic that was used at the press in Venice run by Aldus Manutius in the early part of the 16th century. These ligatures are one of the things that make this italic type so interesting to those studying the history of books and typography.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: May 2019

Welcome to another Crocodile Mystery! This month, we ask that you look at the images below and tell us what they have in common. (Yes, we know there are many possible answers to this. Yes, we are looking for one in particular. And do excuse the blurriness; this is the last time we try to take zoomed in shots without a proper lens!) Leave your thoughts in the comments and we’ll be back next week with the answer.… Continue Reading

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