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The Collation

"What manner o' thing is your crocodile?": May 2013

Another month, another mystery for your riddling. What might be going on in this image? I’m not asking you to identify the text 1 but to look at it and speculate on what we might see and say about it. Click on the image to enlarge it (you’ll need to click twice, once to open it in and again to zoom in on it), leave your comments below, and come back next week when the answer is revealed!

May crocodile

May crocodile

Update 5 May: See the next post, “Pen facsimiles of early print,” for the answer and a discussion of this image!

  1. Revelation 21:1-6


In verse 3, someone seems to have added “is” by hand between “God” and “with men,” as well as “and be” at the end of that verse.

Lyn — May 3, 2013


ummm is it all handwritten pretending to be type!?

Simran Thadani — May 3, 2013


That decorated initial looks kind of like it was done in manuscript? Or maybe I’m just imagining it.

Jordan — May 3, 2013


Sim gets it: it’s a pen facsimile, or, handwriting imitating type. Come back next week for more on what book it is, why it has a pen facsimile leaf, and what we can learn from such things. Or, you know, continue to leave comments below that speculate on this!

Sarah Werner — May 3, 2013


I noticed that (at least) two of the long esses are missing the partial crossbar on the left. Does that kind of variation in the same passage happen with manuscript blackletter? Or is it just an error by the facsimilist? (Or for that matter, did the printed original have a couple of pieces of damaged type?)

Erin Blake — May 4, 2013


I’m not sure what’s happening. The two long-s’s that I see with the missing crossbar (“husband” in the last line of verse 2 and “shalbe” in the last line of verse 3) both clearly have crossbars in the copy that’s at Penn but in the copy that’s in EEBO (taken from a copy at Cambridge), “husband” seems to be missing its crossbar. (Of course, the quality of the EEBO images make it hard to be sure what details I’m seeing or not.)

I suspect it’s the facsimilist who is not used to thinking in terms of the long-s; I noticed that there’s a far range of variation in the length of the bar on the other long-s’s in the facsimile. But I haven’t looked at many blackletter manuscripts to see what happens in those. I think there’s some browsing ahead of me!

Sarah Werner — May 5, 2013


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