Shakespeare’s First Folio Investigation

This assignment set the standard for the rest of the semester! After searching through ridiculously expensive books in Midwestern State University’s rare books room I decided to turn back to the Moore collection. I found a first edition of Shakespeare’s First Folio in a display case that had a significant amount of wispy, ink writing in its margins. On the inside of the cover, among several taped-in articles and pictures, was a bookplate of famous English actor, David Garrick. Directly underneath followed the bookplate of a “Schmidtchen.” (The information I found through researching Schmidtchen’s bookplate could take up an entirely separate blog post but did not lead me to a full name as of yet.) The work was printed in 1623 by Isaac Jaggard and Edward Blount through the Stationer’s Company.

After talking with my archivist and through private research, I discovered David Garrick was a famous actor in England during the mid-1700s. Along with acting he was a successful producer, poet and co-managed the Drury Lane Theatre company. In addition to these things Garrick was well known for rewriting parts of Shakespeare’s works. Midwestern State University’s special collections even has a few of Garrick’s own published works. With Garrick’s background in acting and reputation for making alterations to Shakespearean plays I expected to find a sweeping amount of marginalia. The only marks I felt safe to assume were Garrick’s were several areas of wispy, brown ink writing or smudges. He never left more than a single word or letter. On several pages it looked as if he was practicing a letter ‘R’ and later in the book he marks out the Italian words ‘Tertia’ and ‘Quarta,’ then writes their translations ‘Third’ and ‘Fourth.’ There are several pages with significant brown ink smudges on them that seem to show this wasn’t deemed a valuable possession of Garrick’s.

The taped-in clippings and pictures could either belong to the mysterious “Schmidtchen,” or Nolan Moore. Because I haven’t found any other books with provenance left by Moore I’m going to assume the clippings writing were left by Schmitdchen. The pictures he left in the book reveal that Schmidtchen had a great appreciation for Shakespeare and his life. While there was very little writing left by him what I did observe looked to be in black pen and had a very contemporary style to it, which contradicts my theory of it being Schmidtchen since he does have a bookplate.

This assignment was challenging but so stimulating because I found that the book was my most reliable source of information. There were several instances where I was given incorrect information, but by turning back to the publication information I was able to correct those mistakes. I enjoyed attempting to reveal the history of ownership behind¬†Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies,¬†and to view a production of the information I found you can view the timeline I created below.

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