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The Collation

Heirloom apples and pears, anyone?

We’ll begin with another crocodile-style challenge in this post, from a manuscript miscellany compiled by Henry Oxinden (or Oxenden) (1609-1670) of Barham, Kent, Folger MS V.b.110. Here’s a detail from p. [4] of the miscellany:

can you guess what this text is? (click to enlarge in a new window)

Can anyone identify what this text is? Leave messages in the comments below and I’ll provide additional clues if needed. (As a reminder, you can click on all of the images in this post to enlarge them in a new window.)

This folio-sized miscellany is best known for Oxinden’s list of 123 Elizabethan and Jacobean play texts (including many by Shakespeare) from his library. Some of these titles are now part of the Elham Parish Library, and are cataloged in the University of Kent and Canterbury Cathedral’s online catalogue


Thanks for mentioning the manicules, Heather. I see these manicules are consistent with William Sherman’s observation in his Used Books that each reader tended to draw a manicule that is as distinctive as a person’s signature. I wonder why each of the 15 manicules in STC 2106 is quite different from all the others? One, in the gutter, is even a fist with a pointing thumb.

Richard M. Waugaman, M.D. — May 17, 2012

Looks like shorthand to me! Is it Willis or Bright? Looks pretty Willis-like to me…

Alan Katz — May 17, 2012

Yes, it is shorthand, but not Willis or Bright. Keep at it, and I will follow up with a short post soon, describing the shorthand system and identifying the text (unless someone beats me to it in these Comments)!

Heather Wolfe — May 18, 2012

My answer: The Lord’s Prayer.

1) There’s a clue in the file name and
2) the graph ‘o .’ works perfectly when assigned the value ‘thy’

I’ve encountered shorthand used in other devotional private writings, such as the diary of Thomas Shepard at NYPL. Perhaps you could tell us more about such use.

Stephen Ferguson — May 18, 2012

Stephen is right about it being the Lord’s Prayer.

And it is in Thomas Shelton’s Short-Writing, or “Tachygraphy,” right?

Aaron Pratt — May 20, 2012

Right! It is the Lord’s Prayer based on Thomas Shelton’s system. Stay tuned for images and descriptions in a post later this week. (And we’ll definitely work on creating less revealing file names in future crocodile challenges.)

Heather Wolfe — May 21, 2012