These papers appear to comprise the contents of four volumes of miscellaneous papers bound together some time after Saint-Simon's death, evidently in a rather jumbled state, with a number of booklets fixed together with red tape and some loose papers.
One of the volumes (C1) is largely intact. The title on the spine is ‘St. Simon | Nouvelle Encyclopédie | MSS.‘, and the initials 'L. D. L. S.' appear on the front. These initials probably indicate that at the time they were bound the papers were in the collection of Léon de La Sicotière, but it is not known how or when they came into his possession.
The leaves of this volume are numbered from d.73 to d.224, and most of the other leaves in the collection are numbered in four broken sequences beginning with the letters a, b, c, and d, as follows: a.2-23, 25-124, 126-37, 139-41, 143-53, 155-6, 178-80, 182-250, 265-7, 271-3, 278-82, 286-7, 289-93; b.1-165, 172-267; c.101, 203-10, 213-33, 245-50, 258-74; d.3-70. Some of these numbered leaves are single, others are glued together in sequence in groups. It seems likely that the leaves numbered d.3-70 were removed from the front of C1 and that the other numbered leaves represent the surviving contents of three other original volumes, the bindings of which have been discarded. It is not clear what happened to the leaves missing from the sequences.
At some point the disbound papers and the rest were rearranged into new groups and (with the exception of C2) put into envelopes, labelled as indicated in the catalogue. The papers are interspersed with slips and wrappers bearing notes by Sraffa, and it was presumably he who carried out the disbinding and rearrangement. Judging by the dates on some of the papers reused as wrappers, this was done about 1960.
Sraffa‘s aim does not appear to have been to reconstitute the original physical arrangement of the papers, but to bring together papers containing versions of the same text or papers whose contents were otherwise related and then rebind them in a new order, but the process was not completed.