Is that bleed-through?

In some ways, this image is a perfectly ordinary one (well, ordinary if it’s possible to think of an autograph manuscript of Mary Wroth’s important sonnet sequence Pamphilia to Amphilanthus [Folger V.a.104] as ordinary): Heather Wolfe was showing this image to the participants of the Folger Institute’s recent summer NEH institute, Early Modern Digital Agendas, as part of a transcription exercise. The conversation had turned to the symbol Wroth uses to mark the end of her sonnets (see this sonnet, for example) and we were wondering how she indicated the end of the series—did she use the same symbol, or perhaps something fancier? Turning to this image of the last page, we noticed first that the final punctuation of the series is a semi-colon followed by a slash (!) and that there is a flourish underscoring the last line, both of which stood out as different and perhaps indicative of finality. But…

Annotating and collaborating

This month’s crocodile mystery was, as Andrew Keener quickly identified, an image from Gabriel Harvey’s copy of Lodovico Domenichi’s Facetie and (Folger H.a.2): There is a lot that could be said about Gabriel Harvey and his habits of reading. ((Two places to start are Virginia Stern, Gabriel Harvey: his life, marginalia, and library (Oxford UP, 1979) and Lisa Jardine and Anthony Grafton, “‘Studied for action’: How Gabriel Harvey Read His Livy” Past and Present 129 (1990): 30-78.)) He was a scholar, a writer, and a prolific reader who heavily annotated his books, about 200 of which survive (the Folger holds seven of his annotated books). ((In addition to Domenichi’s Facetie, which is bound with Lodovico Guicciardini’s Detti et Fatti Piacevoli, the Folger has his annotated copies of Lodovico Dolce’s Medea Tragedia (PQ4621.D3 M4 1566a Cage), George North’s Description of Swedland (STC 18662), Giovanni Francesco Straparola’s Le notti, Pindar’s Olympia, John Harvey’s A discoursive Probleme concerning Prophesies (STC 12908 Copy 2),…

Pen facsimiles of early print

As the commenters on last week’s crocodile guessed, the mystery image showed writing masquerading as print or, to use the more formal term, a pen facsimile (click on any of the images in the post to enlarge them): It’s telling that two of the three guesses focused not on the blackletter but on the roman font and the decorated initial. Both of those aspects, I think, are easier to spot as being somehow “off” in comparison to what we expect from print. But we’re not so used to looking at blackletter, and so a manuscript facsimile of that type isn’t quite as tell-tale. This is particularly true when the facsimile doesn’t have the print nearby as a point of comparison, but the difference isn’t necessarily glaring even looking across the gutter to the early printed page: 

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

Don’t panic—it’s still August, but rather than wait until the middle of September to share the new crocodile mystery,  I’m going to share it now and Heather will discuss it next week. At initial glance, it’s pretty clear what’s illustrated below: an address leaf of a letter, in this case a newly acquired letter from Thomas Cromwell to Nicholas Wotton, 8 November  [1539]. The question we’ve been asking ourselves, and now you, is, What is going on with the repair along the right side and upper half of the leaf? See that ghostly printing? Clicking on the picture will open it up in our digital image collection, where you’ll be able to zoom in to examine it in detail. We’ll look forward to any thoughts you have to share and Heather will discuss this more next week!