Fun at the Folger, part 2: Into the Vault

Abbie Weinberg, the door to the vault, me, and Alan Katz. (Photo by Kate Pitt.)

Abbie Weinberg, the door to the vault, me, and Alan Katz. (Photo by Kate Pitt.)

OK, so now that you all know what the Folger Shakespeare Library is, it's time to come with me on a very special tour... into the depths of the Folger's vault!

Yes, somehow the Folger had mistaken me for an actual important person and arranged a private tour of the otherwise inaccessible vault for me. My guides on this expedition were the wonderful Abbie Weinberg and Alan Katz. 

I was also accompanied by my own personal paparazza, Kate Pitt, who took this photo of me, Abbie, and Alan at the door of the vault. It looks exactly like you would expect and want a vault door to look. The vault itself, however...

I exaggerate, of course. As a former library employee, I was actually expecting slightly disheveled stacks with overcrowded shelves, and that's what I got. Which doesn't take away from the SHEER MAGIC of rounding the corner and seeing laid out on a table, waiting for you...

Once again I exaggerate. Alan and Abbie were, in fact, extremely tolerant and even encouraging of my high-pitched noises of over-excitement and general flailing.

The table of wonders that Abbie and Alan have selected for me to peruse. This is pure kid-in-a-candy-shop stuff here. (Photo by Kate Pitt.)

The table of wonders that Abbie and Alan have selected for me to peruse. This is pure kid-in-a-candy-shop stuff here. (Photo by Kate Pitt.)

First quarto of King Lear, with extremely busy title page!

First quarto of King Lear, with extremely busy title page!

First Folio! Right in front of me! Not hiding behind a glass case! 

First Folio! Right in front of me! Not hiding behind a glass case! 

Close-up of the cover of the Bishops' Bible that was in Queen Elizabeth's private chapel, including her marks engraved on the clasps and other hardware.

Close-up of the cover of the Bishops' Bible that was in Queen Elizabeth's private chapel, including her marks engraved on the clasps and other hardware.

Abbie obligingly flipped through the Folio to my favorite scene, 1 Henry IV 2.4, origin of the "Peace, good tickle brain" line. And then THIS happened:

Yes. I booped a First Folio. 

You can actually turn the pages and everything, but I was far too nervous to do that, so I settled for a tiny boop in the margins of the Good Tickle Brain page. Also, before you ask, no you don't have to wear gloves when you handle a Folio. Apparently the lack of tactile sensation in your fingers when you wear gloves actually causes more damage to the pages than the oils in your skin.

So I have now made skin-to-page contact with a piece of paper that came off Jaggard's press in 1623. It was pretty amazing. 

Face to face with a First Folio. (Photo by Kate Pitt.)

Face to face with a First Folio. (Photo by Kate Pitt.)

Looking for the "good tickle brain" page. (Photo by Kate Pitt.)

Looking for the "good tickle brain" page. (Photo by Kate Pitt.)

FOUND IT! (Photo by Kate Pitt.)

FOUND IT! (Photo by Kate Pitt.)

Tadaaaaa! (Actual boop not pictured, because once I booped the page I literally leapt backwards and started flailing my arms around.)

Tadaaaaa! (Actual boop not pictured, because once I booped the page I literally leapt backwards and started flailing my arms around.)

Tune in again next week as I wrap up my fantastic adventures at the Folger, including a few more unexpected gems in the vault and a summary of my Free Folger Friday talk!