Curators: Laura Cofield, Melissa Cook, Werner Gundersheimer, & Richard Kuhta
In their work as collectors, Mr. and Mrs. Folger followed a straightforward path. For anything directly related to Shakespeare, they would stretch to the limit of their financial capabilities Lacking the enourmous resources available to their copetitors, Pierpont Morgan and Henry E. Huntington, the Folgers kept their focus and acquired the biggest and best collection of Shakespeareana the world had ever seen. Successive generations of acquisitions librarians at the Folger have had many intersting opportunities over to perfect and extend Mr. and Mrs. Folgers original collection. Over the past decade, in particular, we have been able to purchase quite a few rare and beautiful editions, some of which may never come on the market again.
We begin A Decade of Collecting in the dawn of printing, with pre-1501 imprints called incunabula, and conclude with examples of contemporary book design. The artwork displayed covers sixteenth century engravings to eighteenth century porcelain and decorated papers, and the manuscripts reach from Sir Walter Raleigh to Thomas Carlyle and Horace Howard Furness. Visitors are sometimes surprised to learn the Folger collects so widely, in areas far afield from Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
A Decade of Collecting shows the degree to which collectors follow the scent of appropriate acquisitions, the support of individuals and organizations that share the Folger's vision, and the treasures themselves. It commemorates the tireless hunt for books, manuscripts, and art, and celebrates the outstanding beauty and intellectual value of these physical objects.