C-90. Provenance: Tracing Owners & Collections

David Pearson

Users and custodians of historic books are increasingly interested in evidence of former ownership, which helps to elucidate how they were used, read, regarded and circulated.  Provenance research includes recognising and deciphering various forms of ownership markings, tracing owners and their books, and understanding the value of this information.  The course will focus on all these areas, and aims to give participants an improved personal toolkit for interpreting the different kinds of provenance evidence they are likely to encounter.  Topics covered will include inscriptions, paleography, bookplates, heraldry, bindings as provenance evidence, sale catalogues, tracing owners, and the recording of provenance data in catalogues.  The primary focus will be on pre-20th century printed books.

The course should be of interest to anyone who regularly works with early books—librarians, collectors, dealers—and who would like to improve their knowledge in this area.  It will be assumed that students have at least a grounding in historical bibliography and some familiarity (through direct handling experience) with early printed books.

Course History

2010
David Pearson teaches this course for the first time.

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
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Faculty

David Pearson

David Pearson

David Pearson is Director of Culture, Heritage and Libraries at the City of London Corporation, and he has previously worked in various major research libraries in London and elsewhere. He has published extensively on aspects of book history, with a particular interest in aspects of the book as an owned and designed object; his books include Provenance Research in Book History (1994), Oxford Bookbinding 1500-1640 (2000), English Bookbinding Styles 1450-1800 (2005), and Books as History (2008). He has taught and lectured in these fields for numerous audiences and is a Past President of the Bibliographical Society.

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