A recent post caused me to look again at the question of the price-code use by at least one of the Brölemanns, and found in their manuscripts.
In my much older post about the Brölemann catalogues, I wrote that If enough examples could be collected, it ought also to be possible to decipher the Brölemann price-code. From the images we have, it is apparent that x=0, and other numbers are represented by c, d, l, q, s, t, and u.
Looking at all the coded prices in that post, we find the following encoded prices: dcx, uc, ufx, qxx, udx, fc, ucx, dxx, lxx, txx, ufx, fc, and uux, which looks like gibberish.
If we re-arrange them alphabetically, however, with two-digit codes before three-digit ones, some patterns become clearer:
First, it is now clearer that there are only three two-digit numbers, and of these, two of them begin with f. This is likely to represent a high number, such as 8 or 9: most manuscripts cost a three-digit amount, so a two-digit amount is more likely to be something like 85 or 90 than, say, 15 or 20.
Second, the last digit is always x (doubtless representing 0), except in two-digit numbers, which all end with c, which therefore likely represents 5, if the currency was decimal.
Third, for three-digit numbers, the most common first letter is u (occurring 5 times) and the next most frequent letter is d (occurring twice). As I wrote in my chapter in Ian Jackson's book about price-codes:
|[click to enlarge]|
This suggests that the Brölemann code may have been based on a very simple mnemonic, in which u = un, d = deux, t = trois, q = quatre, c = cinq, and s = six / sept. The l and f that occur are currently unexplained by such a simple code, but the study of more books with the Brölemann price-code should clarify the situation.
Edit, 25 December 2019
The catalogue description of Library of Congress, MS 5 (formerly Brölemann Catalogue A, no. 139), records that the paper ticket is inscribed "A/139 .hx." (see S. Schutzner, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript Books in the Library of Congress: A Descriptive Catalog, I (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1989), p. 27). We argued above that the first digit of a two-digit price is likely to be a high number, and thus it seems plausible that the h = huit = 8. Perhaps the undeciphered f = neuf?
Edit, 7 January 2020
Walters Art Museum, MS W.213 has the price code "tcx" (according to Randall, France, 1420-1540, no. 159, p. 287). The valuation in the handwritten "Catalogue A" clearly begins with "3" and ends with "0":
The code-letters "d" and "c" are confirmed as "2" and "5" by Catalogue A no. 48:
Edit, 26 January 2020
Looking through old images, I found one of the pastedown of the manuscript sold at Christie’s, New York, The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, 9 April 2013, lot 3 (col. ills.) [Online version]:
Near the top of the page is an inscription in pencil, that appears to read:
8 miniatures a grandes figures -- ux/ -- hx
7 pages entourés d'ornemans [ ... ] sx
28 colonns d'ornemens [ ... ] hq
The sum resolves if q = quatre = 4, h = huit = 8, s = sept = 7, and x = 0:
hx = 80
sx = 70
hq = 84
dtq = 234
This suggests that the letter I had previously read as an f is actually a tall s:
|"A 141 | usx." (i.e. 170)|
|"A 149 | sc." (i.e. 75)|
I also suspect that the letter I have previously read as an l might instead be a badly formed t:
Thus we now have:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
x u d t q c ? s h n?