The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Pandemic Paleography

“I may be losing what are left of my marbles, but in L.b.21 look at the middle wiggly bits of the brackets on the right hand side of 5r (second & third brackets), 5v (1st bracket) 6v (1st & 2nd brackets). Do you see faces in profile with a dot for the eye?”   @Noumenon, a volunteer transcriber living in Australia, posed this question a couple of weeks ago on the Talk feature of Shakespeare’s World, a crowdsourced Zooniverse project from 2015 to 2019.… Continue Reading

Early women buying books: the evidence

In 1684, Bridget Trench bought herself a copy of the Rev. Samuel Clarke’s General Martyrologie, a collection of biographies of those who had been persecuted for their beliefs in the history of the church in England. The book contains a lot of good stories whose interest is heightened by the promise on the title page of “cruel, horrid, and inhumane sufferings.”… Continue Reading


“To Madame Sarah”

Sarah Bernhardt is, for many, synonymous with the melodramatic. One of the most well-known and celebrated actresses of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, she was described by contemporaries as “indefatigable;” “an actress without a rival;” and “a queen of art.” Actor Sir Herbert Tree called her, simply, “the greatest woman I have ever known.”  She was so iconic, some referred to her as “the Bernhardt” or “the divine Sarah.”… Continue Reading

Inside the Folger Archives: Uncle Henry’s Pipers

As we all adjust to social distancing and teleworking, I have been reflecting on similar disruptions at the Folger during World War II. And in that vein, I would like to share with Collation readers the story of Uncle Henry’s Pipers—a short-lived recorder quartet—as revealed by ephemera and correspondence in the Folger’s Institutional Archives. The recorder was a popular instrument with minstrels and the upper class in the early modern world.… Continue Reading

First Folger Director: William Adams Slade, Part III

A guest post by Stephen Grant Similar to First Folger Director William Adams Slade, Part II, Part III will be deltiological in only one instance, as we continue to examine connections between Folgers and Slades (for readers seeking more deltiological content, Part I should fulfill those wishes). Closing this series on William Adams Slade, we are able to present a kaleidoscopic picture of the little-known first director of the Folger by drawing from a variety of sources: Mr.… Continue Reading

Following the Trail of Counterfeits in the Folger’s Reformation Collection

A guest post by Drew Thomas Among the many collections at the Folger, besides its magnificent Shakespeare Collection, is the Stickelberger Collection of Reformation Tracts. This valuable collection, purchased by the Folger in 1977, was compiled by the Swiss writer and collector Emmanuel Stickelberger (1884-1962). Combined with the previously acquired collection of Reformation pamphlets from the library of Sir Thomas Phillips (1792-1872), the Folger’s Reformation holdings make it a leading center of Reformation resources in North America.… Continue Reading

A red proof sheet used as printer’s waste

Thank you for your guesses on this month’s crocodile mystery. The leaf pictured here shows text from the Litany printed in red. The blank space is where the text in black would have been printed in a second press run. This leaf belongs to a set of four flyleaves—each with text from the Litany printed in red on one side only—located in the binding of a copy of The Image of Gouernance translated from the Greek by Thomas Eliot and printed by Thomas Berthelet in 1544.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: May 2020

Welcome to the May Crocodile Mystery! Take a look at this image: This sheet has been used as endpaper in a book (the image has been rotated to make the text more legible) but can you guess to what it was intended to be part of and used for? Leave your guesses in the comments below, and we’ll be back next week with more information!… Continue Reading

The “Greco Deco” Folger Shakespeare Library

The About page for this blog declares that The Collation “seeks to present bite-sized glimpses of the materials found within our walls.” That’s a bit tricky at the moment: like most of the rest of the Folger staff, I haven’t had a glimpse within those walls since March 13, when we began teleworking to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The District of Columbia is now under a stay-at-home order so I can’t even glimpse the outside of those walls.… Continue Reading