Quill Books before print mediamediamediamediamediamedia
choosing a writing support
making quires and sheets
preparing the page
copying the text
correcting the text
decorating the book
binding the book
using the book
> Making Quires and Sheets > Quire

Building blocks

Quires, which were produced by bundling together a number of bifolia, form the building blocks of the manuscript. How many bifolia the scribe bundled together often depended on his or her location. Book producers in England, for example, are known to have regularly produced quires of six bifolia, while scribes on the Continent typically preferred quires of four bifolia. Some quires are irregular. An extra folium could be added (called a singleton) or a leaf could be cut out.
Such instances of irregularity are of great interest to book historians, because they may suggest that the original composition was expanded by the scribe (for which an extra folium was needed) or because a blank folium was removed at a later stage (it came in handy for taking notes). Scribes often produced the quires themselves, but it also appears that they used prefabricated quires on occasion.