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David Garrick

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Materials from the David Garrick Collection

David Garrick, the leading actor-manager of the 1700s, revolutionized English theater with a lively, naturalistic acting style that held audiences spellbound. The Folger's collection of Garrick materials, perhaps the largest in the world, includes books, manuscripts, promptbooks, playbills, correspondence, portraits, porcelains, and even a set of Garrick's silverware. Today, funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is supporting Raising the Curtain: David Garrick at the Folger, a major project to catalog Garrick works in these diverse media, create digital facsimiles, and make the Folger’s Garrick collection far more easily accessible. The initial phase of Raising the Curtain was funded by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.


As part of the project, book conservator Linda Hohneke is currently repairing and conserving a number of David Garrick books and manuscripts. The works shown here are “extra-illustrated” volumes that started as ordinary printed books. Their owners then filled them with a wealth of supplementary materials such as portraits, playbills, and letters, often on added pages. The resulting volumes are therefore unique. Often the additional illustration is substantial: A.M. Broadley added so much material to his copy of Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald’s 1883 Life of David Garrick that it expanded from two volumes to seventeen.


Because of the added material, extra-illustrated volumes often become too full, stressing and ultimately separating the textblock from the cover. Conservators repair or replace the bindings.


Inside an extra-illustrated volume, other issues arise. Glassine tape becomes brown, brittle, and acidic over time; it is being replaced with Japanese paper hinges. Illustrations that “offset” or print onto the facing page require the insertion of acid-free paper between the pages. Loose or detached illustrations must be reattached.

Life of David Garrick, separated spine

Cover detached from the textblock of an extra-illustrated volume

A bound-in letter after conservation treatment

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Learn more about the Folger collection

The Collection: Books and Ephemera

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