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Manuscript Description
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum MS McClean 181
MS Appellation:Fi (Manly and Rickert)
Title:Canterbury Tales
Contents:Canterbury Tales, closest textually to Alnwick, Duke of Northumberland MS 455.
Date Range:Before the date of death of Thomas Kent, probable first owner, in 1468-9.
Scribal Hands:
Examples of the hand. Click on the link above for full details and images of individual letter forms.

No of Folios:1 new heavy paper matches pastedown + 1 newer blank paper flyleaf + 305 original parchment folios of which first is blank except name of 'Thomas Bly' on verso and of which last (305) is blank except scribbles + 1 blank newer paper, + 1 new heavy paper matches pastedown
Pagination:Foliation in modern pencil in right top corner, 1-305. Signatures regular as letter plus roman numerals in first half of quire, beginning with 'a ij' on fol. 2. These become more cropped through the volume, but 's ij' is not cropped on fol. 162 and 'T j' on fol. 184. Continues with symbols after 'y'.
Quiring:1(8)-17(8) (1 removed) 28(6) 29(8) - 31(8) 39(6) (James).
Signatures:Mostly removed by cropping.
Catchwords:Yes, by the scribe in centre of lower margin. Sleigh under or close-parentheses at left and open parentheses at right
Page Size:240 x 170
Frame:Brown not ruled; top line of text inside frame
Writing Space:155 x 105
Incipits and Explicits:'Here endeth the Boke of the Talys of Caunterbury compiled bi Geffrey Chaucers on whose soule Ihesu haue mercy Amen (f304r). Red incipits and explicits for each tale.
Marginal Headings:In rubric for each tale.
Running Titles:In several hands in upper outer corners recto in the ink of the text.
Title by Scribe:Here bigynneth the Talys of Caunterbiry Compiled by Geffrei Chaucers (f1r)
Flourished Initials:Space left for initials
Other Names (not owners):Bookplate inner pastedown: 'From the Library of the Earl of Ashburnham Appendix No. CXXVII. May 1897'. Bookplate inner pastedown: 'From the Collection of Frank McClean' f1v: 'Thomas Bly'. 17th-18th cent.? f2: 'Max Dalyson'. 17th-18th cent.?
Miscellaneous Info:This scribe has a special mark that follows many of his headings in rubric. It is a double hyphen slanting upwards with punctus below it and punctus elevatus above it. This follows his headings on folios and is also used after some of the running titles eg 'A Gode wyfe of of Bathe' on f9 and 'The parson' on f9v.
Further Information:James's Catalogue of the Fitzwilliam Museum, McClean Collection (1912), 347-349. Manly, John M. and Rickert, E. The Text of the Canterbury Tales, 8 vols, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1940. 1:160-169.McCormick, Sir William and Janet E. Heseltine. The Manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Oxford: Clarendon, 1933. 155-169 Seymour, M. C. A Catalogue of Chaucer Manuscripts, vol. 2, The Canterbury Tales. Aldershot, Hants: Scolar Press, 1997. 61-66.
Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York, King's Manor, York YO1 7EP