Guide to the Research Collections

- Specific Aspects of the Bibliography Collection

Specific Aspects of the Bibliography Collection

National and Trade Bibliographies

This is a comprehensive collection with complete files of series such as the Publishers' Trade List Annual, Bibliographie de la France, and Reference Catalogue of Current Literature. Historically the collections have excellent coverage for the United States, England, most European countries, and the USSR. There are substantial holdings of Latin American bibliographies, but only a fair representation for Oriental countries. Currently the library receives 130 national bibliographies, but the holdings from those countries where bibliographical facilities are not well established have many gaps. There is a concentrated effort, however, to keep the files of all national bibliographies as current and complete as possible.

Booksellers', Art and Print Dealers' Catalogs

Although the collecting policy for booksellers' catalogs does not aim for completeness, the library's holdings of this material are unusual. A great number of the dealers' larger compilations are classed by subject in the collections and are not shelved with the general bibliography holdings. The general collection includes important nineteenth-century catalogs of European and American booksellers. One bound series of 31 volumes covers the period from 1801 to 1828; perhaps even more rare are smaller and more general early catalogs. A large number of formerly uncataloged materials of this nature, which as early as 1902 numbered 7,000 items, have now been assimilated into the collections. These items have been cumulated into bindable volumes and a form card has been established in the Public Catalog under the name of the dealer, a card which indicates that numbered or unnumbered catalogs are available, but without further detail. A list of 28 United States, 13 English, and 18 European bookdealers has been established as those whose catalogs are to be retained in the future; other catalogs are discarded after they have been used by the staff for ordering. The list of dealers whose catalogs are retained is subject to constant review and revision. An attempt is made to secure missing catalogs from 1956 onward for dealers on the retention list. The greater part of the collection of booksellers' catalogs is held with other infrequently used materials at the library's Annex. Holdings are noted in the Central Serial Record.

Art dealers' catalogs form one of the stronger holdings in the Art and Architecture Division. The Prints Division retains all print dealers' catalogs that are received. Current items are retained and certain selected items are bound and added to the collections; mimeographed or other ephemeral materials are filed in envelopes. Form cards are prepared for the division's catalog.

Auction Catalogs

The collection of auction catalogs is representative for United States and English houses, but selective for French and most other European firms. Both priced and unpriced catalogs are retained, the priced being preferred. There is a bound file of the priced catalogs of the American Art Association Galleries from 1880; a fairly complete file for the Anderson Galleries from 1900; for the American Art Association from 1880; for the Parke-Bernet Galleries from 1938; and for Sotheby and Company from 1829, with some earlier scattered numbers. Auction catalogs of other American and European firms are present in large numbers. The larger, more important publications, located in the bibliography collection or classed by subject, are fully cataloged.1 An attempt is made to secure missing catalogs from 1956 onward of the active galleries and dealers whose catalogs the library currently receives and retains. In addition there are complete files of such auction records as American Book-Prices Current, Bookman's Price Index, and Book-Auction Records. Both the Art and Architecture and Prints Divisions maintain sales records and retain individual auction catalogs as received.2


In the Manuscripts and Archives Division are materials of bibliographic interest such as the Merle Johnson papers, the George Henry Sargent collection, and the Rodd family papers (1826-59). There is also the thirteen-volume manuscript compilation by H.O. Teisberg entitled "Records of Manuscript and Book Auctions in the United States, 1717-1889," which includes references to newspapers and catalogs.