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Online provenance resources

Online Exhibitions

University of Barcelona, The Rare Book and Manuscript CRAI Library (2020)
La vida privada dels llibres del CRAI Biblioteca de Reserva
in order to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the launching of the database see Former owners.

Bryn Mawr College Libraries, Private Lives of Old Books: Recovering Personal Histories from Early Books of Latin (Sept.-Dec. 2021)
"Private Lives of Old Books" (2021). Books, pamphlets, catalogues, and scrapbooks. 44. A publication of short essays accompanies the exhibition, which was organized by Kate Barnes (Ph.D. Candidate in Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies) under the direction of Catherine Conybeare (Leslie Clark Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies) and with the assistance of the department of Special Collections.

Buenos Aires (Argentina), Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno (2021)
Provenance exhibition
From the 26th to the 30th of April 2021 the National Library Mariano Moreno held the “V Encuentro Nacional de Instituciones con Fondos Antiguos y Raros” (5th National Meeting of Institutions with Ancient and Rare Books); this year's theme was “A heritage approach to Provenance”. Librarians, historians and other professionals from 22 countries presented their research. The event had several partners, including CERL. As a way of sharing information and stimulating research, the Meeting organized a virtual exhibition with the provenance of 13 libraries. For more information about the project, please send an email to analia.fernandez@bn.gob.ar

Durham, University Library (2021)
Journeys: Reading the World
The exhibition builds on Preparing for a Journey exhibition launched earlier in the year and explores the themes of travel, adventure and exploration through books, diaries, maps and letters.

Groningen University Library (2021)
Material evidence in the incunabula of the University of Groningen Library During her CERL internship (2019-20) at the University of Groningen Library, Anna de Bruyn made some wonderful discoveries about former book users and owners. She brought this material together in an online exhibition, which is now available in Dutch and English on the university website. It gives insight into the history of the incunabula and the collection, and it shows that the work does not end with the internship: Anna writes 'I still visit the special collections regularly and my work there gave me lots of new ideas, so many thanks to CERL for that'.

London, Middle Temple Library (2021)
Charles Dickens and his legal world

Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine (2021)
Un siècle d'excellence typographique : Christophe Plantin et son officine (1555-1655)

Princeton University Library (2019)
Gutenberg & After: Europe’s First Printers, 1450-1470

Vilnius University Library (2020)
Books and Non-Books
On 15 October, in honour of its memorable 450th anniversary, Vilnius University Library launched an online exhibit “Books and Non-Books” on Google Arts & Culture platform.

Wrocław, Ossolineum Library (2020)
The Golden Age of the Jagiellonian Dynasty

Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek (3 April – 30 June 2017)
Colours Between Covers. German book illumination of the 15th and 16th centuries from the collections of the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg

Geographical areas


Salzburg, Universitätsbibliothek

The Special Collections Department of Salzburg University Library has prepared online lists of former owners of their manuscripts and early printed books: Verzeichnis der Vorbesitzer von Handschriften, Inkunabeln, Frühdrucken und Rara der Universitätsbibliothek Salzburg. The alphabetical lists are arranged in four columns by inverted normalised name; dates; notes; and shelfmarks.
There is also a useful set of pages giving the history of the collections within the Library.


Royal Library of Belgium

The Section of Old and Rare Books (‘Réserve précieuse/Kostbare Werken’) has been cataloguing the provenances of old and rare books since the beginning of the 1990s. This information can now be consulted on-line.

Areas covered include incunables (see also below under Incunables) and post-incunables but also the 17th and 18th century books printed in Brussels (about 20.000 items) and for quite a number of old and rare imprints which are recent acquisitions or have been retrospectively catalogued.

For information on the post-incunables, see the Royal Library’s website. Contact name: Bart Op de Beeck, Responsible for the Section of Old and Rare Books (odbeeck@kbr.be).

Park Abbey, near Leuven

Dr Christian Coppens is investigating present location of items from the collection of incunables which belonged to the Premonstratensian Abbey of Park before its sale in 1829.
Further information with a description of the provenance indicators of books from the Bibliotheca Parchensis and some photographs.


The Eloquence of Books: provenance

The “Webinar Conference Provenance and Printing Culture” took place in October 2020 and was organized by the Research Project “The Eloquence of Books: provenance”, until 2020 coordinated by Professor Fabiano Cataldo de Azevedo at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and currently at the Federal University of Bahia. Several Brazilian and foreign institutions joined up together in a collaborative effort to make the event possible.
Information about the event is gathered on the website, and the videos of the 22 sessions are on the YouTube Channel.
For more information about the project, please send an email to: Marcasdeproveniencia@gmail.com

Grupo de Estudos e Pesquisas sobre Patrimônio Bibliográfico e Documental.

This research group is led by Dr Fabiano Cataldo de Azevedo,Federal University of Bahia. In addition to information about the Study and Research Group on Documentary Heritage, there are projects linked to it, such as the project on provenance. On the tab where the project is located there are references and a list of activities under development: https://www.patrimoniobibdoc.com/activos-em-andamento. The website also includes videos of lectures by Dr Fabiano, and videos of events organised by the research group.


Royal Library, Copenhagen

Database of missing books
In addition to the list of Det Kongelige Bibliotek’s missing books and their history, this site gives detailed information on owners’ marks, stamps, monograms, bindings, etc. which characterise and identify books having their origin in the royal collections.


Bibliopat - Association des bibliothécaires patrimoniaux / French Association of heritage and specialized collections Librarians

Confronted to the development of individual provenance databases in France, a dozen of French libraries involved in Provenance description and research have formed an informal group in June 2013 to reflect and work on possible developments at the national level. The common goal being to avoid the duplication of efforts and the development of multiple individual tools, interoperability is at the heart of this project which is drawn in close collaboration with CERL’s Provenance working group.
The group’s main remit is:
* to stimulate the creation of provenance information on the French heritage collections kept throughout the country in the public libraries as well as in the university or specialized libraries.
* to envision possible ways:
- first, of developing an interface in which to integrate the newly created information, and
- second, of federating searching on this data along with the existing provenance data in individual provenance databases, library catalogues, authority files and large reservoirs such as the national catalogues in EAD (Calames, the manuscript catalogues in university libraries, BNF’s manuscript catalogue and CGM, Catalogue général des Bibliothèques publiques de France) all of them in EAD.
The group has created pages of resources as a first step, in order to help librarians who wish to start cataloging provenance: http://www.bibliopat.fr/provenances/provenances-des-collections-aide-a-la-description-et-au-signalement

Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon

Base Provenance des livres anciens
The Provenance database features marks encountered in the Rare Book and Manuscript collections of the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, marks of ownership as well as marks of censorship, reading, prices, etc. Each record includes images, detailed information on names, marks, dates, etc., and links to the library's catalogue.

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris

Reliures estampées à froid
The Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève, Paris, has launched a valuable web-based database of its blind-stamped bindings found on manuscripts and printed books from the 12th to the 18th centuries. In addition to digitised images of rubbings showing the binding tools used, and notes on the origins of the bindings, the database has an index of provenances for the books in question.
From the main page, click on ‘‘Recherche’’ to go to the search page, and then use the ‘‘Provenance’’ search field. The ‘‘Index’’ link produces a clickable list of all the provenance names in the database.

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

The Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, has launched a web-based database of bindings which can be accessed by workshop, owners, type technique material etc., date, and date of acquisition by BnF.

Fondation Custodia, Paris

Les Marques de collections de dessins & d’estampes
In 2010, the Fondation Custodia, together with the Musée du Louvre and the Dutch RKD published an online version of the publication Les marques de collections de dessins & d’estampes, prepared by Frits Lugt in 1921 and supplemented by him in 1956. Around 10,000 marks have been gathered, of which 6,400 have been put online and around 5,000 have been identified.


Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

Einbanddatenbank, a database of stamps and rolls used on bookbindings.

Buxheim Charterhouse and its library

A virtual recreation of a fifteenth-century library. The library once present at the Carthusian monastery of Buxheim, Germany, was one of the largest of its kind. The manuscripts now reside in over fifty libraries across Europe and North America, and some remain in private hands. Many remain unlocated or unidentified since their sale and dispersion at auction in 1883.
You may view the manuscript catalogs of c. 1450, 1693 and 1755. There is a page illustrating 17th/18th century Buxheim provenance inscriptions. The site is the work of Dr William Whobrey at Yale University.

Dresden, Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek

In two provenance projects (2009-2013), the SLUB collected 15,000 images. The first 4,000 (those also recorded in the GND) have now been made available through the Deutsch Fotothek.

Freiburg, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität,Universitätsbibliothek

Provenienzdatenbank - recording the monastic libraries now held at this institution.

HeBIS-Arbeitsgruppe Historische Bestände

Starting with an Ad-hoc Group on Provenance in 2007, the HeBIS network eventually established a broader HeBIS Working Group on Old Collections. The group is running a provenance mailing list (postings in German as well as English language) with many international subscribers from museums, archives and libraries actively discussing questions of provenance research. New subscribers are welcome.
Provenance information in Hessen is added to the HeBIS-Verbundkatalog and can be searched by selecting the index “Provenienzen/Exemplarspezifika(PRV)”. It is soon to become retrievable directly from the CERL Thesaurus as well.
For further information, see the HeBIS Website (German language).

Mainz, Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek

The Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek Mainz is adding provenance names (for persons and institutions) to the records in its OPAC. Select the search field PRO (Provenienz) and search, for example, for “Karmeliterkloster Mainz”.
The library is a member of the HeBIS Network.

Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: Early modern monastic bookplates

http://www.bayerische-landesbibliothek-online.de/exlibris About 600 bookplates from Bavarian monasteries can be searched alphabetically, with hyperlinks to the Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte which provides information on the history of each monastery.
A list of institutions and persons who are recorded as previous owners of incunabula now in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munich has been published as PDF file. The list contains standardized name forms for institutions, which are also used in provenance information for items recorded in the BSB's OPAC. For persons, short biographical data are provided to facilitate identification; this information has also been published in the index volume of BSB-Ink: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: Inkunabelkatalog (BSB-Ink). Bd. 7: Register der Beiträger, Provenienzen, Buchbinder. [Redaktion: Bettina Wagner u.a.]. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2009. ISBN 978-3-89500-350-9
Descriptions of the incunabula owned by a particular institution or person can be retrieved in the BSB's online catalogue of incunabula by entering the name in the field “Provenienz”. Please make sure to put names consisting of more than one word in inverted commas, e.g. “Abensberg, Karmelitenkloster” or “Abenperger, Hans”.
The provenances of the BSB's incunabula are also recorded in the CERL Thesaurus.

Regensburg, Staatliche Bibliothek

The Staatliche Bibliothek Regensburg has an online list of former owners (personal and institutional) in its collections up to the year 1830 (with a few later collections). There are digitised images of booklates, binding stamps, etc. and an index of Regensburg institutions to which personal owners can be associated.

Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek

Work-in-progress, records former owners of items in the collection of the Württembergische Landesbibliothek

T-PRO – Thesaurus der Provenienzbegriffe

The T-PRO | Thesaurus der Provenienzbegriffe LINK http://provenienz.gbv.de/T-PRO_Thesaurus_der_Provenienzbegriffe is developed by the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek Weimar and draws on Provenance Evidence - Thesaurus for Use in Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloguing (Chicago: American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries, 1988) and the work of the Bibliothèque municipale, Lyon. Terms are offered in German, English and French. – Since 2009, the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz have exercised editorial responsibilities for the thesaurus.

Weimar, Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek

Since 1997, the library has been adding provenance names (for persons and institutions) and provenance terms (using the T-PRO | Thesaurus der Provenienzbegriffe LINK http://provenienz.gbv.de/T-PRO_Thesaurus_der_Provenienzbegriffe) to the records in its OPAC LINK http://opac.ub.uni-weimar.de/DB=2/LNG=DU/. Select the search field PRV (“Provenienzen”). There is also an OPAC LINK http://opac.ub.uni-weimar.de/DB=2.3/ comprising Nazi looted art (“NS-Raubgut”) with more detailed information on provenance and which offers the option to search for collections (“Sammlungen”).


Bologna, Archiginnasio

Provenance Database: Archivio dei Possessori
Illustrated database of former ownership marks (inscriptions, stamps, superlibros, ex-libris, ex-dono, shelfmarks), with a separate list of unidentified marks. Suggestions for the indentification can be sent to the Head of the project, Dott. Laura Tita Farinella, Laura.Titafarinella@comune.bologna.it.

Fabriano, Corpus Chartarum Fabriano (CCF)

Watermarks Database
Corpus Chartarum Fabriano (CCF) is a catalogue containing records of watermarked and non-watermarked western paper manufactured over the past eight centuries in Fabriano: since end XIII century up to the present day. The project includes the identification, the cataloguing as well as the digitalization of all watermarked papers conserved by Fondazione Fedrigoni Fabriano. The website includes a useful video tutorial: https://ccf.fondazionefedrigoni.it/en/video-tutorial

Montevergine, Biblioteca Statale

Provenance Database: Archivio dei possessori
Illustrated database of former ownership marks (ex-libris, stamps, manuscript annotations, bindings, etc.) from the rare books collection of the Library, spec. 16th-century - ongoing.

Naples, National Library

Provenance Database: Archivio dei possessori
Illustrated database of former ownership marks (ex-libris, stamps, manuscript annotations, bindings, etc.) from the rare books collection of the Library - ongoing.

Padua, Biblioteca Universitaria, La Biblioteca dell'architetto del Rinascimento

Virtual Exhibition with an illustrated section on notes of provenance and bindings.

Regione Toscana

LAIT: Libri antichi in Toscana, 1501-1885
The LAIT database, directed by Regione Toscana, one of CERL’s members organisations, is now available on the web. There are over 7,000 entries with provenance information, which can be searched using the search field `‘Possessori’’.

Florence, Archivio di Stato
Coat of arms Database
From the Ceramelli Papiani collection.

Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale

Florence, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Max-Planck-Institut: Stemmario

Coat of arms Database
Over 2,800 arms of Florentine families, churches, hospitals, and confraternities.

Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

Coat of arms Database
Arms of Popes, Cardinals, and Religious Orders.

Rome, Biblioteca Casanatense

Coat of arms Database
The library's coat of arms database contains some 1,000 arms of owners and dedicatees found in manuscripts and incunabula in the Casanatense library. The database is particularly helpful for the identification of anonymous arms, thanks to the 'esperta' search option, by 'figure', 'smalti', and 'partizioni'.
Further information from Dott.ssa Laura Giallombardo, Responsabile del Fondo Araldico, Biblioteca Casanatense, Rome.

Rome, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale

The Libraries of the suppressed Religious Houses, Rome, 1876 (updated February 2016).
Following the suppression of the religious houses in Rome (1873) as a consequence of the creation of the new Kingdom of Italy with Rome as its capital, the libraries of the suppressed religious houses were confiscated for the benefit of the newly created National Central Library (1876).
In her article ‘The computerised archive of owners in the older publications database of SBN: the experience of the National Central Library of Rome’, CERL Papers V, 2005, pp. 43-53 (see above), Marina Venier (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Rome) describes the process of confiscation and the attempts of the religious to avoid the loss of their books. The Appendix to her article is reproduced here, listing the 78 libraries confiscated, their size and religious affiliation, reference to surviving catalogues of the original collections, and reproduction of ownership stamps and labels from many of the collections.

Turin, Archivio Ebraico Terracini

Possessori libri antichi a stampa (Owners of early printed books)

Turin, Archivio di Stato

Turin and Piedmont

Coat of arms Database

Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana

Illustrated database of former ownership marks (ex-libris, stamps, manuscript annotations, bindings, etc.) from the rare books and manuscripts collection of the Library - ongoing.


Fire Marks Collective Catalogue

'Fire marks' are a form of provenance evidence which was frequently burnt into the fore edges of the books and also in the front cover or the endsheets. This type of brand was used in the Colonial period, in New Spain, by various religious orders and institutions such as colleges or seminaries, and also by private individuals. This Website presents a collective catalogue, with digital images belonging to different institutions. Since it is a collective catalogue the number of libraries participating will be increasing in the near future.

Authors of the catalogues Jose Maria Library Historical Library, BUAP and Franciscan Library, UDLAP, from Puebla, México, are:
* Dr. María Idalia Garcia Aguilar (Centro Universitario de Investigaciones Bibliotecologicas, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), who published an illustrated article on the subject: 'Libros marcados con fuego' ('Emblemata', 13 (2007), pp. 271-299; ISSN 1137-1056).
* Mercedes Isabel Salomon Salazar (Biblioteca Jose Maria Lafragua, BUAP, Puebla, Mexico) and Andrew Green (Instituto de Investigaciones Doctor Jose María Luis Mora, Mexico) have published an essay titled: 'Las marcas de fuego: propuesta de una metodologia para su identificacion'in 'Leer en tiempos de la Colonia: imprenta, bibliotecas y lectores en la Nueva Espana'; Idalia Garcia Aguilar and Pedro Rueda Ramirez, compilers (UNAM, México, 2010, pp. 341-366; ISBN: 978-607-02-0750-1).
Download the PDF file.


Leiden, University Library

The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands

Index to Pennink's Catalogue of non-Dutch postincunables 1500-1540 held in the KB The Hague. It is not possible to click through to the bibliographic records, but its is a finding aid for identifying relevant materials held in the KB The Hague.


Library of Poznan Society of Friends of Sciences

A database of bookbindings in Polish Collections was created in April 2011, in the Library of the Poznań Society of Friends of Sciences. It is the first database of precious bookbindings from the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries for this part of Europe.
The library stores c.15,000 incunabula and old prints made between the 16th and 18th centuries. Many of them are covered with original bookbindings. Especially interesting is the rich collection of not widely known Polish bookbindings.

Ossolineum Library, Wrocław, Poland

Printed publication: Ksiąźka dawna I jej właściciele (Early Printed Books and Their Owners), ed. Doroty Sidorowicz-Mulak and Agnieszki Franczyk-Cegly. Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Ossolineum, 2017. Two, richly illustrated, volumes with 39 papers on provenance marks. Many papers painstakingly identify provenance marks in use at religious, administrative and educational institutions in Poland.


All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, Moscow (VGBIL)

As part of its Displaced Cultural Valuables project, the Library for Foreign Literature has produced an electronic database of owners’ inscriptions of rare and displaced editions in major European languages based on the VGBIL’s rare books collections. The project web page http://spoils.libfl.ru/ (with Russian and English versions) provides access to the electronic version of the ‘‘Spoils of War’’ International Newsletter and to the on-line database of provenance marks from the collection.
The collection is particularly strong in books with German library provenances.
The easiest way to navigate the database is to use the pull-down menu of owners’ names. An account of the project in French can be found in the Nouvelles du livre ancien, no. 116 (hiver-printemps 2005) pages 3-9.
The Library for Foreign Literature has also produced a printed version of the information: The Foreign book signs in the Rare Book Collection of the Library for Foreign Literature – founder M. Rudomino, ed. E. Zhuravleva, N. Zubkov and E. Korkmazova, Moscow, 1999, 448 p. ISBN 5-7380-0108-5.


Advocates Library (Edinburgh, Scotland)

http://www.nls.uk/collections/rare-books/collections/advocates An overview of their shelfmarks, stamps and inscriptions, dating from the 1680s to the 1920s.

National Library of Scotland

The Private lives of books
Catalogue of an exhibition arranged in conjunction with CERL’s 2004 Annual Seminar Books and their owners: Provenance information and the European cultural heritage (published as CERL Papers V.
Download catalogue as PDF file


Barcelona, Universitat

The Universitat de Barcelona has created a database catalogue of Former Owners: https://crai.ub.edu/sites/default/files/posseidors/home_eng.htm. The records have digitised images of signatures and other provenance marks. The search interface is available in Catalan, Spanish and English.

Former owners can also be searched on the online catalogue of the University of Barcelona (http://cataleg.ub.edu/ in Catalan, http://cataleg.ub.edu/*eng in English). It is possible to limit the search to “Ancient books”. In the field “author” there are indexed the former owners with the designation “(propietari anterior)”. They appear as a secondary entry in the bibliographic records and in the specific copy field.

Information about the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library of the University of Barcelona can be found in its web site https://crai.ub.edu/en/about-crai/libraries/rare-book.
Papers decorats del CRAI Biblioteca de Reserva: Marbled and other decorated paper database.

Madrid, Royal Library

As part of its work on the history of the Royal Library, the Real Biblioteca is creating two databases of interest for provenance research.
  • Base de datos de Ex libris de la Real Biblioteca : a database of armorial bindings, stamps, bookplates and inscriptions of former owners of items in its collections, with digitised images.
    On the search page, the pull-down menu labelled 'Identificación' gives an alphabetical list of the persons indexed in the database, who are mainly members of the royal family, aristocrats or scholars. The data range from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

Madrid, Universidad Complutense, Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla

Februry 2008: 1200 provenance records for books in the Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla have been added to the CERL Thesaurus.
Illustrated Database of former owners of the Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla, in progress https://biblioteca.ucm.es/historica/procedencias-1.
Previous owners can be searched for through the Rare Books on-line catalogue, by selecting the author field in the drop-down menu and typing the name with the addition of ‘ant. pos.’ (former owner).
E.g. to search for books which belonged to the Colegio Mayor San Ildefonso at Alcalá de Henares, enter the words ‘Colegio Mayor San Ildefonso ant. pos.’. View the results of this search.
The following article can also be consulted:
Ana Santos Aramburo and Marta Torres Santo Domingo, ‘La Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense: una primera aproximación a la historia de sus procedencias’, In La Memoria de los libros: Estudios sobre la historia del escrito y de la lectura en Europa y América, Salamanca, Instituto de Historia del Libro y de la Lectura, [2004], Tomo II, pp. 265-286.

Salamanca, Universidad de Salamanca, Biblioteca General Histórica

Illustrated database of former owners, in progress:http://bibliotecageneralhistorica.usal.es/
A complete listing of provenance names is currently being compiled for the Biblioteca General Histórica of the Universidad de Salamanca. Each entry offers as much information as possible including biographical dates and activities, ownership marks and notes, as well as bookplates and bindings, all with digitized images and bibliographies.
Former owners can also be searched on the online catalogue of the Fondo Histórico (books printed before 1831) of the University of Salamanca.
Use the following link to search the field Impresor, Editor, Antiguo posesor for records with names tagged “Ant. pos.” (former owner). E.g. search for “López, Blas” and then, to view the copy-specific data, click on the link under “NOTAS”. View the results for this search.
Information about the library’s history and holdings can be found in the “Historia” (history) section of the website.
The most recent article about this subject is:
Becedas González, Margarita y Óscar Lilao Franca, «La Biblioteca General Universitaria: evolución histórica y fondos». In: Luis Enrique Rodríguez-San Pedro Bezares, coord., Historia de la Universidad de Salamanca. III.2, Saberes y confluencias, Salamanca: Universidad, 2006, págs. 879-953.


Uppsala, University Library

ProBok, a database of bindings.


Basel, Universitätsbibliothek

Opera poetica Basiliensia : a database of poetic texts printed in Basel and/or held by the University Library in Basel. The left-hand menus have links to indexes of authors, titles, printing towns, printers, dates, and also provenance names (Vorbesitzer). The entries have digitised images of title pages, etc., many showing the provenance sources.
These names have now been added to the CERL Thesaurus.

Zurich, ETH

'Ex meis libris': over 1,000 images of provenance of rare books searchable by type of owner, country, place, persons and organisations, provenance marks, language, period, and 'unidentified' (e-pics, “Ex meis libris”: Provenance of Rare Books)

Zurich, Zentralbibliothek

The Benefactors’ Book (1629–1772) of the former Zurich Public Library Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Arch St 22. Digital reproduction and electronic edition on e-manuscripta: http://doi.org/10.7891/e-manuscripta-45784

This striking manuscript, with numerous illustrations of coat of arms, lists more than 900 donors and about 3300 donations. Scholars, politicians, merchants, refugees as well as ambassadors donated books and objects such as portraits or coins to the Zurich Public Library. In return, the donors were immortalised with an entry in the Benefactors’ Book. In addition to the donors identified, the electronic edition contains the bibliographical information of the donated titles. In many cases, the exact copies are also identified, which are part of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich's vast collection today. The names, titles and shelfmarks of the copies of the Zentralbibliothek are searchable in full-text (via the search field at the top right). The second volume of the Benefactors’ Book (1774-1860) is available as digital reproduction as well, an electronic edition of the same is still in progress at the moment (http://doi.org/10.7891/e-manuscripta-66089). Benefactors’ books as the ones in Zurich can also be found in other libraries, for example in the Bodleian or in the Pembroke College Library.


Book Owners Online

https://bookowners.online/Main_Page The project, led by David Pearson, is a collaboration between the Bibliographical Society and the Centre for Editing Lives & Letters at University College London, with support from the the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It currently covers 17th-century English book owners – people who died between 1610 and 1715 – but it is designed to be scalable and they hope to expand it chronologically and geographically.

British Armorial Bindings

http://armorial.library.utoronto.ca/ A comprehensive catalogue of all the coats of arms, crests, and other heraldic devices that have been stamped by British owners on the outer covers of their books, together with the bibliographical sources of the stamps. By John Morris, continued and edited by Philip Oldfield, under the sponsorship of the Bibliographical Society of London in conjunction with the University of Toronto Library.

Alan Nelson, Index to former owners of various printed books

Professor Nelson’s private web site is no longer hosted at Berkeley, but can be viewed via the Wayback machine. It has two on-line provenance indexes for early English books:
– Books owned by Humphrey Dyson (1582–1633) listed by library and by STC-number
– Provenance Index to UMI-STC microfilms (1475–1640).

Margaret Lane Ford, Early Book Owners in Britain

The British History of books, which started in the early Middles Ages and continues to date, comprises not only the establishment of printed books in Great Britain, but also the import and buying of them. The private ownership of printed books is up to now a barely investigated question. Margaret Lane Ford addresses herself to this task in respect of the private ownership of printed books in the late 15th and early 16th century. For a contribution to The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain she has gathered evidences of provenances for the time period in question from over 4300 printed works in the past, books in private ownership had a high practical value and were of importance for the professionalism. Classical and theological texts were indispensable for the university-educated and the students, while technical works were needed by merchants and handcrafters.
Search EBOB

William M. Hamlin, Alphabetical List of Private Book-Owners and Institutional Collections

Professor Hamlin's site at Washington State University lists former owners (c. 1500–1700) as part of his project on Early Modern English Library Catalogues: A Working Bibliography

Private Libraries - Articles in The Library selected by David Pearson

A selection of articles published in The Library during the period 1892-2015, prepared by David Pearson in order to compile the 2015 virtual issue of the journal on the topic of private libraries, with a brief summary of their contents.

Private Libraries in Renaissance England (PLRE)

A new online database PLRE.Folger contains records of nearly 13,000 books drawn from book-lists compiled in England between 1507 and 1653, itemizing the collections of 196 owners. These records include the book-lists appearing in 162 probate inventories taken under the jurisdiction of the Chancellor of Oxford University.
The PLRE Project website offers a detailed alphabetical list of the names of the owners of the libraries and a chronological index of inventories.
The printed volumes which underlie the database are published by Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies (Tempe, AZ) and are available in the United Kingdom and Europe from Adam Matthew Publications (Marlborough, Wiltshire).

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Parker Library Cataloguing Project - Provenance
Names may be present in books for a variety of reasons. Inscriptions suggest it was the custom for fellows of the College to present books to the Library on relinquishing their fellowships. In these cases, the books were unlikely ever to have been in the personal library of the donor, who may have given money for their purchase rather than the books themselves. The presence of more famous names may record presentations by authors of one of their works, either to the library itself or to a previous owner. A number of these names represent former owners of the books, which later made their way by bequest, donation or purchase to the library at Corpus Christi. Finally, there are a small number of names of binders, second-hand booksellers and authors of letters found inside books.

St John's College, Cambridge

Provenance & Binding Indexes
The early printed books and manuscripts held in the Library were often owned by various individuals before they ended up in its collections. Sometimes well-known or celebrated individuals left their mark on a volume, whether a signature, motto, bookplate or specially made binding. More often they were more obscure, leaving just a name or a doodle. The indexes do not provide a comprehensive listing of provenance, but are an attempt to list both the most substantial donors and some of the more interesting names associated with volumes in the Library. The Upper Library Cataloguing Project has included provenance information in its records, with individual names searchable under 'Author' on the University Library's Newton Catalogue. A complete listing of provenance names is being compiled as part of the Project; for details, please ask the Special Collections Librarian.

Canterbury Cathedral Library

Provenance names for books printed before 1801
A provisional list of 3152 former owners, based on the provenance index published in the microfiche catalogue of the Cathedral's books printed before 1801 (David Shaw and Sheila Hingley (and others), Canterbury Cathedral Library: Catalogue of pre-1801 printed books. Adam Matthew Publications, Marlborough, 1998. 24 pp + 17 microfiches).
Provenance names from the Mendham Collection
The 1,148 provenance names for the books in the Mendham Collection are linked to the full bibliographical records on the OPAC at the University of Kent at Canterbury. These name records have been supplied to the CERL Thesaurus and will appear on the provenance index in the Thesaurus shortly. The full bibliographical records for books printed before 1830 will be added to the Heritage of the Printed Book Database (HPB) in 2009.

The Mendham Collection comprises Catholic and anti-Catholic literature including manuscripts and printed books ranging from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Among its contents are some fine bindings and rare examples of Continental printing. The collection is on deposit at Canterbury Cathedral Library from the Law Society.
See also Books and libraries in Canterbury (information about libraries, books, book-owners, etc. in Canterbury before c. 1900).

British Library, London

Provenance research
This page gives guidance about the provenance information available about the British Library's printed collections. It includes details of the stamps and shelf marks which help to identify particular collections and to publications which give further guidance.
Sir Hans Sloane's Library
The Sloane Printed Books Catalogue is a joint initiative by the British Library and the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London. It aims to 'virtually' reunite the printed book collections formerly owned by the renowned physician, scientist and collector Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). His collection, comprising around 40,000 printed books, was one of the largest libraries in Europe of its time and is particularly significant for its holdings of medical and scientific material.
The Introductory pages to the online catalogue provide information about the history of Sloane's collections and on the characteristic marks which help to identify books no longer in the British Library's collections. The Advanced Search page offers a drop-down menu of libraries which have already contributed details of Sloane items in their collections.

Westminster Abbey, London

Incunabula in the Westminster Abbey and Westminster School Libraries by Christopher D. Cook, with bookbinding descriptions by Mirjam M. Foot.
London: The Bibliographical Society, 2013. 185pp; 23 colour illustrations. ISBN: 978 0 948170 23 9.
Includes an 'Index of Donors, Former Owners and Associated Names'.

Bodleian Library, Oxford

Provenance index of rare books collections in the Bodleian Library
From the Bodleian Library's entry in A directory of rare book and special collections in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland / edited by B.C. Bloomfield with the assistance of Karen Potts (Library Association, 1997).
A comprehensive description of the origins and contents of the many constituent collections of the Bodleian and its dependent libraries.
BodInc: A catalogue of books printed in the fifteenth century now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
The provenance index of the Bodleian's incunabula catalogue is available as a downloadable PDF file: Index of Provenances, Owners, Donors, and other names.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxford_csb/sets/72157629489440232/: Unidentified coats of arms in Bodleian incunables.

St John's College, Oxford

In 2008, St John's College Library in Oxford completed retrospective cataloguing of its large collection of early printed books. Copy-specific information was recorded for every volume, following the “OLIS antiquarian standard”. MARC 852 fields hold information on: Provenance names, Binding descriptions, Size, Previous shelfmarks, Bookplates, etc.

Currently, this information is not searchable by individual field name in the OPAC of Oxford University (OLIS). This means that one can't currently search by “Provenance name”, for example. However, in the telnet interface of OLIS, one can search for strings in the MARC 852 field, the search command is “cgw=”. One can then limit the search by library.

After the implementation of Oxford University's new library management system in 2011, it is hoped that individual fields in the MARC 852 will become searchable. Until OLIS becomes searchable by provenance name, St John's College Library posts a preliminary list of provenance names on its webpages. The list gets updated occasionally. It is not complete. See http://www.sjc.ox.ac.uk/1435/Provenances.html

Hazlitt's Roll of Honour

William Carew Hazlitt, A Roll of Honour: a calendar of the names of over 17,000 men and women who throughout the British Isles and in our early colonies have collected MSS. and printed books from the XIVth to the XIXth century, with topographical and personal notices and anecdotes of many of them and their libraries and introductory remarks. London, Quaritch, 1908.
A digitised version of the main text is available on GoogleBooks


Pennsylvania University, Provenance Online Project (POP)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/58558794@N07/collections/72157626385042757/: Images of Unidentified, partially identified, or identified bookplates, stamps, inscriptions, and bindings from their Special Collections.

Princeton University Library

Bookbindings on Incunables, the Scott Husby Database at PUL
A 20-year project initiated by PUL’s former rare book conservator, Scott Husby, the searchable database contains descriptive records for more than 27,000 bindings on incunables preserved at approximately 30 North American research libraries. For each library, every incunable binding – regardless of period – has been included in the census. Although 80 percent of all incunables in North America now were later rebound, a significant number of “late Gothic” bindings from the later 15th- or early 16th-century survive. The Husby Database offers more than 4,000 photographic views and rubbings of these early specimens.

Rare Books and Manuscripts Section - ALA

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 resources/provenance/geographical.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/19 10:58 by lefferts



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