The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Cataloging at the Folger: a Primer

When I meet people for the first time and they hear that I am a rare book cataloger, I can expect one or both of these questions: “What’s a rare book,” and “What is cataloging?” This crowd doesn’t need my expostulations on the first, but cataloging is just enough of an unknown that a primer may be in order. Library cataloging is the process of providing structured description and controlled vocabulary into bibliographic records, and of collecting these records into a system of some sort.… Continue Reading

Folger Tooltips: Media group wrangling, part one

Our last tooltip covered how to create your own login for the Folger digital image databases, and once logged in how to create and begin working with media groups. Today we’ll focus on some useful features of your media groups including: moving (or copying) images in and out of your various groups; importing photos to your media group from flickr; exporting your media group to powerpoint.… Continue Reading

Such a lucky pretty little library…

We thought we’d kick off your weekend with an amusing and fascinating hybrid book that is ripe for research. The as-yet unidentified compiler of this late seventeenth-century, ca. 800-leaf volume, a recent acquisition at the Folger, describes it in many flowery ways. He introduces it as a “Vade-Mecum Memorial Manual of Muses, or Compleate Compendious Complexe and Companion, of Learned Languages and Sciences, Scarcely another to be seen so short, small and full.” This pretty much says it all: the manual is indeed small (it is a duodecimo) and full, and in fact looks more like a cube than a book, fat to the point of bursting. … Continue Reading

Itty-bitty tab dividers

The main trick with November’s “crocodile” was having to figure out the scale. It looks at first glance like a woolly button on a pin-striped shirt: But when a ruler is included in the shot, you can see that the colorful bobble is only 3 mm in diameter: … Continue Reading

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: November edition

And now, for your viewing pleasure, we present this month’s crocodile mystery. What is it? How was it made? What size is it? Would it sell well as a postcard in the Folger gift shop? Please share your thoughts below, and don’t be shy.  In the spirit of the Folger’s current exhibition, Very Like a Whale, remember that things not only are, they also seem, evoke, relate, and conceal.… Continue Reading

A new copy of Foxe’s Actes and Monuments

The Folger Shakespeare Library already has two copies of John Foxe’s Actes and Monuments, published in 1570, so why would we want another, especially as it is only volume 1, of a two-volume set? The answer provides a good example of how we decide what rare items to add to the collection. We purchased this volume in June from Bonham’s auction house in London.… Continue Reading

Folger Tooltips: Digital image database logins and media groups

Dear Fellow Collators: Today’s post focuses once again on powerful but perhaps under-utilized features of our digital image databases. Recent tips have dealt with saving static URLs to get back to previous searches or to individual images, and saving static URLs to get back to multiple images arrayed on a workspace. One thing has been true for these tips (and for that matter all previous digital image database tooltips): there are many ways to make good use of these resources without ever registering or logging in with a personal account.… Continue Reading

The Return of the Prodigal Painting(s)

I’d guess that few people look at Appendix III in the back of William L. Pressly, Catalogue of Paintings in the Folger Shakespeare Library (Yale University Press, 1993). Appendix III is unillustrated, not very detailed, and rather depressing: it’s the list of paintings that are no longer part of the Folger collection. In all, sixty-three paintings were de-accessioned between 1961 and 1964.… Continue Reading

Second Thoughts on Second Editions. The Dutch Fingerprint (Part II)

In my previous Collation post I explained what a bibliographic fingerprint is and how it works. The examples I will discuss in this post will demonstrate how useful the fingerprint is to compare copies remotely and to identify title editions and variants within editions. Some of these discoveries may shed more light on (bad) habits in book production and the marketing of books in the early modern period.… Continue Reading

An exercise in collaborative editing: Anthony Bagot’s letters and Nathaniel Bacon’s pirate depositions

As part of their paleography training, my paleography students always spend a bit of each afternoon working in pairs on transcriptions. It gives them a break from being in the “spotlight” as we go around the room reading manuscripts line by line, and allows us to shift from reading out loud to the detail-work of semi-diplomatic transcription. Two or three sets of eyes are much better than a single set in terms of efficiency and accuracy, and students learn from each other in a way that they can’t learn from me.… Continue Reading