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:

fc

fc

uc

dcx

dxx

lxx

qxx

txx

udx

ucx

ufx

ufx

uux

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] |

**u**and

**d**ought to represent the numbers 1 and 2, and we have already surmised above that

**c**= 5. We already know that other letters include

**s**and

**t**.

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**= neu

**f**?

**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":

so although the middle number is a bit ambiguous (is it a 5 altered to 0?) this confirms that "t" = "3" (= trois?).

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

dtq

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?**

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