List of Notable Forgeries at the Folger

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William Henry Ireland (1775-1835) and John Payne Collier (1789-1883) are two of the most well-known forgers of early modern documents. While Ireland focused exclusively on Shakespeare forgeries, Collier was more broad-reaching in his fakes. The Folger holds several notable forgeries by each man, along with numerous related materials. The Folger also holds a significant collection of facsimile and forged Shakespeare signatures.

William Henry Ireland

Actual Forgeries

Related Materials

Secondary Sources

John Payne Collier

Actual Forgeries

V.b.275: Continuation of Stowe’s Survey of London [manuscript], 1658.

A transcription of this volume, entitled "Notes on London churches ..." was published in 1908 as Pt. IV, Supplement no. 2 to Harrison’s Description ... edited by F.J. Furnivall in 1877-1881. The section on the playhouses appeared in J.P. Collier’s edition of Shakespeare’s Works, 1842-1844, vol. 1, p. ccxli. It has been suggested that this manuscript may have been fabricated by Collier.

Bd.w. STC 11049, copy 1: The ffooles of the citie [manuscript], [18th or 19th century?].

Manuscript poem on sig. [par.]6v of STC 11049, copy 1. Probably a Collier forgery.

X.d.459 (1): Note on the cost of removing the playhouse in the Blackfriars [manuscript], 18th or 19th century.

Undated Collier forgery in alleged autograph of Sir G. Buc.

X.d.459 (12): Autograph letter signed from William Hunnis to unidentified recipient [manuscript], ca. 1590?

Dedicates his work on the preservation of the health of a horse to him. Probably a Collier fabrication.

V.a.339: Miscellany of Joseph Hall [manuscript], ca. 1650.

Poems on leaves 37-39, 105v-174, 176, 221-222v, 236-239 are Collier forgeries. A number were included by Collier in his edition of Extracts from the registers of the Stationers’ Company, London, Shakespeare Society, 1848-1849. see I, p. vii-viii and II, vii-x. For a discussion of this manuscript see "John Payne Collier’s great forgery", by G.E. Dawson in Studies in bibliography, vol. 24 (1971).

Related Materials

Y.d.582 (46-48): The alleged Shakespeare forgeries : three drafts]

Three drafts of the same article; of which (48) is seemingly the most final of the three, and is in a hand other than Collier's. Article describes Collier's position as "unavoidably painful and cruel." While questioning the evidence upon which Collier was assaulted, author points out Collier's past alleged mistakes such as the parliamentary reports of 1819 and the Coleridge lectures. Wants an impartial commission to review accusations.

Y.c.1055 (166): Autograph letter signed from John Payne Collier, Riverside, Maidenhead, to W. Wardlaw Reid, 1859 July 20

A note in a later hand reads "Shakespearean scholar and forger letter about his 1st folio with forged emendations."

Y.c.1055 (223): "The Shakespearean Forgeries." The New York Evening Post, May 5, 1860 : printed newspaper clipping, 1860 May 5

The article quotes a letter from correspondent R.B., handwritten note on clipping says R. Balmanno.

W.a.197: The text of Shakespeare vindicated from the interpolations and corruptions advocated by John Payne Collier : esq., in his notes and emendations / by Samuel Weller Singer.

With Singer’s annotations.

Secondary Sources

John Payne Collier : scholarship and forgery in the nineteenth century. Arthur Freeman and Janet Ing Freeman. Yale University Press, 2004

Fortune and men’s eyes : the career of John Payne Collier. by Dewey Ganzel. Oxford University Press, 1982

Shakespeare's Signature Forgeries and Facsimiles