Buffalo’s Shakespeare Folios: A Tale of Two Collectors

18 March 2016-January 2017: B&ECPL Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare

April 2016-December 2016: The UB Libraries and Special Collections present exhibits in honor of the 2016 Year of Shakespeare

4 October: “The Wedding of the Folios”

The Digital Commons @ Buffalo State present “‘Something Surely Hidden’: Conspiracies & Codes in the Margins of a First Folio Facsimile”

The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and SUNY at Buffalo present:
 Buffalo’s Shakespeare Folios

A Tale of Two Collectors

The 1623 First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays is one of most important printed books in existence. Without it we would not have 18 of the plays, including Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest. There are 234 known surviving complete texts of the First Folio from a print run of about 750, and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., at 82 copies, has by far the largest number.

During the entire 2016 Shakespeare commemorative year the Folger Shakespeare Library, in conjunction with the American Library Association and the Cincinnati Museum Center, is sending a number of its First Folios and extensive interpretative materials on a tour of all 50 states, Washington D.C and Puerto Rico, where they will be greeted with special local programming. You can follow the tour—titled “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare”— and the commemorative year programming of the Folger Shakespeare Library itself, under “The Wonder of Will: 400 Years of Shakespeare” at http://www.folger.edu/the-wonder-of-will .

However, Buffalo did not have to bid for a place on the Folger tour, since it is fortunate enough to have two Shakespeare First Folios of its own. Furthermore, each of those Shakespeare First Folios is part of a set of all four 17th century early Shakespeare Folios: the 1632 Second Folio, the 1663 Third Folio, and the 1685 Fourth Folio. Each set of early Folios is in turn a part of a collection of early printed books that now forms the core of the rare book collections of the two major libraries in the area, the Special Collections within the Grosvenor Room at the downtown Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and the Thomas B. Lockwood Collection in the Special Collection Library at the University at Buffalo (SUNY at Buffalo) Libraries.

Like many of the treasures of the city, these collections were the offshoot of Buffalo’s Gilded Age wealth. During the late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century Henry Clay Folger, Henry E. Huntington, and John Pierpont Morgan all made massive purchases of printed books and manuscripts which became the foundations of the research centers they later endowed. Here in Buffalo the B&ECPL collection derives in part from the efforts of Charles Clifton (1853-1928), the President and CEO of Pierce-Arrow Motors, who contended with Folger himself for the so-called Gilburne First Folio (named after the supposed signature of one of the actors from Shakespeare’s own troupe), and ultimately traded it to Folger in exchange for a “very much better” copy of the book. (See Andrea Mays, The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio, pp. 202-5.) Thomas B. Lockwood (1873-1947), a Buffalo lawyer and businessman, assembled his collection in large part from the Grolier’s Club list of One Hundred Books Famous in English Literature, and it is distinguished and beautiful, broad if not deep. He donated his collection to the University of Buffalo in 1935.

During the year of “Bvffalo Bard 2016: 400 Years Since Shakespeare” the B&ECPL will display its early Shakespeare Folios in its first floor Rare Book Room together with other related rare volumes from the 16th and 17th centuries such as its 1609 Book of Common Prayer; its 1576 and 1609 Geneva, 1578 Bishops and 1611 King James Bibles; its 1580 Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland and 1614 Stowe’s Chronicle of England; its 1563 Foxe’s Actes and Monuments; Thomas Lodge’s 1614 English translation of the moral and natural philosophy of Seneca; Raphael Regius’ 1568 Latin translation of Plutarch’s Apophthegmata; a 1602 Thomas Speght edition of Chaucer; a 1609 edition of Spenser’s Faerie Queene; a 1622 Historie of the Raigne of King Henry Seventh by Francis Bacon; a 1616 Ben Jonson first folio; and a 1563 treatise on Elizabethan gardening.


While they are at the BECPL, visitors are encouraged to visit the ground floor Grosvenor Room and also the Mark Twain Room, which houses the original handwritten manuscript of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the “Milestones of Science: Books That Shook the World” exhibit upstairs, which highlights 35 of 197 foundational scientific texts in that collection, including a page from the 1450 Gutenberg Bible, a 1490 edition of the Opera Omnia of the classical physician Galen, Vesalius’ 1543 On the Fabric of the Human Body, Copernicus’ 1543 On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, and Galileo’s 1632 Dialogue Concerning Two Chief World Systems.

They should also look for periodic posted performances, lectures, and other programming as part of “Bvffalo Bard” to be staged in the informal downstairs “Ring of Knowledge” and in the Library auditorium.

Visitors to the Special Collections Library within the Oscar Silverman Library on UB’s North Campus (take the interior library elevator to the fourth floor) can request to see the four early Shakespeare Folios as well as the other early literary and dramatic texts from the Lockwood Collection, including both the 1590 and 1596 editions of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene; the 1616 and 1640 folios of the collected works of Ben Jonson; a 1647 folio edition of The Comedies and Tragedies of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher; and a 1667 first edition of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. While they are at the Library they should also enjoy the permanent public displays of James Joyce materials (the Library owns the original manuscripts of Finnegan’s Wake) and twentieth-century art.


During the period of “Bvffalo Bard 2016” UB Special Collections will be the host to several special exhibits surrounding the early Shakespeare folios, including tracing influences from Shakespeare’s works upon the work of modern poets, whose collection is the major mission of the library, and ephemera from the local “Silver Creek Shakespeare Club,” which was in continuous existence for over 100 years, from 1889 to 1990. Throughout the year they will also host visits from book historians, classes, and the general public.


The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library presents

Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare: Reflecting on the Life of the Bard

An exhibit of Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623), the other three seventeenth-century Shakespeare Folios, and  other rare period and Shakespeare-related materials 

Rare book Display Room, Main Floor, Central Library, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo

BEPL Shakespeare exhibit IMG_9194

18 March, 2016-January 2017

And see Library schedule for other programming, including free screenings of popular Shakespeare films

For Special Collections at the downtown Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, see http://www.buffalolib.org/content/special-collections

For The “Milestones of Science” exhibit at the BECPL, see http://www.buffalolib.org/content/milestones-science, and see also the 11/23/15 Buffalo News article, “Library’s ‘Milestones of Science’ shows off great books of Western civilization,” http://buffalo.com/2015/11/21/featured/librarys-milestones-of-science-shows-off-great-books-of-western-civilization/

For the Grosvenor Room at the BECPL, see http://www.buffalolib.org/content/grosvenor

For “The Mark Twain Room” at the BECPL, see http://www.buffalolib.org/content/grosvenor/mark-twain-room, and see also the 2/20/16 Buffalo News article,”Twain’s Buffalo Legacy,” http://www.buffalonews.com/life-arts, as part of the series “Top 100 Things Every Western New Yorker Should Do at Least Once”


SM Aud shot 4 23 16

The UB Libraries and Special Collections present exhibits in honor of the 2016 Year of Shakespeare

During the period from April 18th-June 10th, and in some cases for the entire 2016 commemorative year, there will be Shakespeare-centered displays in most of the UB Libraries as well as the rare books early Folios display in the the UB Special Collections in Capen 420.  Stay tuned for details, or visit the University Libraries web-site  at  http://library.buffalo.edu/

Some highlights include:

Digital collections – Materials from UB’s collection of all four seventeenth-century Shakespeare Folios, including the digitized version of UB’s entire 1623 Shakespeare First Folio.  See http://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/collection/LIB-RB001/

Lockwood 1Science and Engineering Information Center (SEIC) and Map Collection

Shakespeare Science download“Science in the Time of Shakespeare” can be viewed in the lobby of Lockwood Library and continues on the lower level of the Library. (Take the inside staircase to the left, one floor down.) This exhibit explores astronomy, cartography, maps, and map-making. It features materials on Shakespeare, but also on Francis Bacon, who developed the scientific method, and the brilliant  mathematician-astronomer Thomas Digges, who championed the Copernican model of the universe, as well as early English navigators and explorers. Learn about “Climate Change in the Age of Shakespeare,” when the “Little Ice Age” caused great hardship but also led to practices like “frost fetes” on the frozen Thames.

This exhibit was researched, written and curated by Nancy Schiller, Fred Stoss, and David Bertucca.  Exhibit design by Kimberly Wagner. Image by Caitlin Russell, used with permission.

Lockwood 2– Book display featuring plays, criticisms, adaptations, and books with Shakespeare as a character. And, on April 22nd, A Shakespeare Read-A-Thon and Deathiversary Cake!


John Wood 15021_shakespeare6f

IMG_2095Program, Shakespeare Read-A-Thon (on-line)

shakespeare_thMusic Library-“If Music Be the Food of Love,” April 18-May 31

An overview of topics from the perspectives of both music in Shakespeare, and Shakespeare in music. The exhibit highlights some lesser-known titles from the holdings of the Music Library, including French operas by Frédéric Le Rey, Georges Adolphe Hüe, and Edmond Missa.

For an electronic introduction to the UB Music Library Exhibit, see:


Silverman Library- Different versions of Shakespearean plays and adaptations from the Multimedia Collection will be featured.

 History of Medicine, Abbott Hall, South Campus –Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection: A selection of books from the 17th to the 20th centuries are on display that focus on subjects such as life and death in Shakespeare’s London, Shakespeare and the influence of his physician son-in-law, Mr. John Hall, and William Shakespeare’s knowledge of medical and surgical practices and beliefs of that era. Surgical tools representative of those used in Shakespeare’s day are also on display.

Shake HOM2

Law Library-April 18-May 6

“Canst thou Spot the Issues?” On the Bard’s 400th Deathiversary we ask, “What if Shakespeare’s plays were thy final exams?  Woulds’t thou pass?”  An issue spotter law exam based on select plays of William Shakespeare will be on display on the second floor of the Law Library.  In the words of the Bard, “If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.”

Libraries Website-Links available streaming the BBC Shakespeare collection. See http://catalog.lib.buffalo.edu/vufind/Record/003369212 .titania-lying-asleep2-L

Libraries Store –
Scanned images of Arthur Rackham’s enchanting illustrations for A Midsummer Night’s Dream available for purchase  http://ublibraries.smugmug.com/

Opposite: Titania  asleep

Other UB Library highlights:

For Special Collections at SUNY at Buffalo, see http://library.buffalo.edu/specialcollections/

For the Poetry Collection at SUNY at Buffalo, see http://library.buffalo.edu/pl/

For the Silver Creek Shakespeare Club, see http://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/collection/LIB-UA022/

A Photo Gallery from the April 21st Read-A-Thon:

Stephen and Dante 15025_shakespeare3fFalstaff and Hal

Unknown 15023_shakespeare7f



Juliet’s nurse


Desdemona and Emilia

Doug Basford at Read-A-Thon15020_shakespeare4f

Original responses

Kathryn, 15022_shakespeare5fIMG_2093

And Shakespeare/pop culture banners by John Bono

Claire Danes

Judi Dench

Kevin Spacey

Patrick Stewart

Tom Hiddleson

Leonardo DiCaprio

Kate Winslet - Version 2

Benedict  Cumberbatch

The Wedding of the Folios

The University Libraries and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL) commemorated the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death with a Wedding of the Folios on October 4, 2016. This unique event celebrated the fact that Buffalo’s two complete sets of Shakespeare Folios are displayed together for the first time as part of the public library’s exhibition, Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare: Reflecting on the Life of the Bard.




UB’s Folios were a gift to the University Libraries from Thomas B. Lockwood, a collector of rare books and benefactor of the university’s original Lockwood Memorial Library. The treasured volumes traveled to the public library in a vintage Pierce Arrow motorcar, courtesy of the Buffalo Pierce-Arrow Transportation Museum. The late Col. Charles Clifton (1853-1947), president and CEO of Pierce-Arrow Motors, was the donor of the public library’s Folio set.


The Digital Commons @ Buffalo State


“‘Something Surely Hidden’: Conspiracies & Codes in the Margins of a First Folio Facsimile”

Something Surely Hidden: Conspiracies and Codes in the Margins of a First Folio Facsimile

SUNY Buffalo State Special Collections is home to a nineteenth-century reproduction of the First Folio, one released to celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth in 1864. Many identical facsimiles were published in the 1860s, but SUNY Buffalo State’s copy is unique. Why? Because it contains extensive, handwritten notes in the margins (called “marginalia”) that do not appear in any other copy.

Using secret codes, mathematics, and close readings of the plays’ text, an unknown scribbler believed there was “something surely hidden” within the First Folio: that it could be used to prove Francis Bacon was the true author of the plays, and not William Shakespeare.

But who was this mysterious marginaliast? When did s/he write? And is it possible Francis Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare’s famous plays?

By studying the notes and theories left behind by the marginaliast, we can try and solve these historical mysteries. To access the Exhibit electronically, go to  http://digitalcommons.buffalostate.edu/marginalia/ 

Exhibit Credits

This exhibit was researched and curated by Corey Fabian Borenstein under the supervision of Daniel DiLandro (College Archivist) and with technical assistance from Joshua Rakower (Information Commons Librarian).