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The Collection
• Works of Art
Costumes and Props

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Stage Costumes and Props

The Folger has about three dozen complete or partial costumes in its collection, most of them from nineteenth-century or early twentieth-century Shakespeare productions. Stage props include such related items as crowns, scepters, swords, money (for the character of Shylock), and a tambourine.


In several cases, a single role played by one actor is represented by a considerable range of materials. For his role as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, E.H. Sothern’s extensive wardrobe included a cape, a cloak, a coat, a jacket, gloves, many different hats, a doublet, trunks, tights, several pairs of stockings, a sword belt, spurs, and two pieces of stage armor, all of which are included in the Folger collection. At the other extreme, the treasured relics of some famous stage portrayals may consist of no more than a single tunic or a sash.


Additional actors and actresses represented by full or partial costumes in the collection include Sothern’s wife and frequent leading lady Julia Marlowe, as well as Ada Rehan, Lewis Waller, Charles Kean, Edwin Booth, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, and others.

Costume worn by Edwin Booth in the role of Richard III, Embroidered velvet. 2nd half of 19th century.

Cleopatra snake girdle, late 19th or early 20th century

Jeweled leather gloves worn by Henry Irving as Bendick

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