In 1444, the wardens of the London Goldsmiths’ Company made a decision to fundamentally reorganize their archives. They observed that the company’s old accounts, ‘made in times past’, were not now ‘of record’ because they had been ‘written in smale [quires] and in other scrowles of no value’. Over the years these piecemeal items had been lost, disorganized, and generally ‘put in oblivion’, and were of little use to the present governors of the company. In order to solve this problem, the wardens ordered that from henceforth all their records should be entered into a new book, bought specifically for that purpose, so that they ‘may be the more opynly knowyn, and remain of Recorde withynne the Craft of Goldsmythes for evermore’.1 For the wardens, the integrity and functionality of their archive depended on their records being written regularly, kept safely, and gathered...

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