Saturday, 1 February 2020

Three Brölemann Updates

I. Brölemann "Catalogue A"
The Brölemann "Catalogue A" discussed in a recent post sold for €5,790, approximately seventy-five times higher than its pre-sale estimate of €70-90!
I do not yet know who the successful buyer was, but I am attempting to find out.

II. The Brölemann Price-Code
In the process of compiling a fairly comprehensive list of the printed books and manuscripts described in the published Brölemann catalogue ("Catalogue C"), I have re-examined various photos, which corroborate my tentative decipherment of the price-code I proposed in a blogpost last year. I have added a couple of addenda to that blogpost since then, but most readers probably have not seen them, so I'll repeat them here.

In the original post I suggested that u = un, d = deux, and so on, based on the likelihood that u=1, d=2, and c=5 (and x=0).

The likelihood that d=2, c=5, and x=0, is confirmed by Catalogue A no. 48, in which dcx = 250:

The hypothesis that t=trois=3 seems to be confirmed by Walters Art Museum, MS W.213, which has the price code tcx (according to Randall, Med. & Ren. MSS in the WAG, France, 1420-1540, no. 159, p. 287); in "Catalogue A" its valuation clearly begins with "3" and ends with "0", and the middle number appears to be a "5" (perhaps altered to "0"):

As for the other numbers: looking through old images on my harddrive last weekend, 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. Near the top of the pastedown (the whole of which is at the very top of this post) 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, s = sept = 7, h = huit = 8, and x = 0, as follows:

 hx    =   80 [i.e. 8 miniatures valued at ux (10) each]
 sx    =   70 [i.e. 7 pages valued at 10 each]
 hq    =   84 [i.e. 28 pages valued at 3 each]
dtq    =  234

The confirmation that s = 7 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)
And this is supported in the handwriting of Catalogue A, as for example in the way that these words and names are written:
"de saints"
"Vente Sauvage"
"Symon Vostre"

I also suspect that the letter I have previously read as an l might instead be a badly formed t:

Thus we now have most of the price-code deciphered, with only 6 and 9 being unverified:
u = 1
d = 2
t =  3
q = 4
c = 5
? = 6 [it cannot be s or x, but could potentially be i, as in six]
s = 7
h = 8
? = 9 [we expect n, for neuf
x = 0

III. A Recent Blogpost, and the Blue-Edged Labels
Another bibliographical blogger was apparently inspired by the recent auction of books from the Brölemann library: he published a new blogpost this week here:

He does not say much about the manuscripts, but, concerning the octagonal blue-edged labels he states:
"Il [Brölemann] collait, dans le coin inférieur gauche du contreplat supérieur de ses livres, une étiquette octogonale à bordure bleue, dont il existait quatre types, sur laquelle il inscrivait une référence codée à des catalogues manuscrits « A » et « B » et le prix codé du livre."
... yet he reproduces one of the very few blue-edged labels without the price-code!:

The statement that there are four variants of the labels is incorrect. Although he does not name his source, I suspect he got this idea from a 2015 blogpost, in which I wrote that there are "at least four similar but slightly different designs" of the blue-edged label.

Looking again at the small sample of labels that I have been able to collect, we can see that  there are in fact at least six different designs, probably more.

Two types have short dashes around the edges, sometimes so short that they appear as square dots:

The rest have 'beading', like a row of pearls, around the edges. They typically have four or five beads (depending how you count each "side") along the shortest sides, seven or eight along the longest sides, and five or six along the intermediate sides, as in this example, in which the beads are quite evenly spaced so that most of them touch their neighbours:

This one has only three beads at the upper right short side, flanked by slight spaces:

This one has only three beads at the lower left, flanked by spaces (but is not simply an upside-down version of the previous one):

 This one has has only six beads, widely spaced, along the lower edge:

With good photographs of more examples, we would probably find that there are many other variants.

1 comment:

  1. Someone must really have wanted Catalogue A (lot 208)! It does contain some important information and I hope we will know eventually where it has landed. I am pleased to report that the Grolier Club in New York was the successful bidder for lots 199, 200 and 209. Please feel free to contact the Library of the Club if you have any questions about these recent acquisitions. Visit: