Baba (2023 Congress)

Yukie Baba
(Hitotsubashi University)

“Curious Quire Signatures
in a Fourteenth-Century Legal Manuscript”

Abstract of Paper
presented at the 58th International Congress on Medieval Studies
(Kalamazoo, 2023)

Session on “Bound But Not Gagged: The Eloquence of Medieval Book Bindings”
Part 2 (of 2):  “Diverse Regional Techniques”

Organized by William H. Campbell
Co-organized by Mildred Budny

Co-Sponsored by the RGME and
the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS)

2023 Congress Program



Quire signatures denote the order of the folios in a volume. In printed books, they generally appear in the lower margin of the rectos as a combination of the Latin alphabet and the Roman or Arabic numerals. However, the quire signatures of Franklin MS 5, a copy of English Statutes from the early fourteenth century, at Hitotsubashi University (Tokyo, Hitotsubashi University, Burt Franklin MS 5) are unique and do not have such a combination. They have neither Latin alphabets, Roman numerals, nor Arabic numerals.

Instead, as its quire signatures, the manuscript bears vertical lines, horizontal lines, and circles in blue ink on the rectos. This curious example of unusual signatures may give us clues about the development of the quire numbering system in medieval bookbinding.