Provenance of Rare Books

Authored by: Marcia Reed

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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Just as people have lives, so do books. Like identical twins who end their lives looking quite different, even the seemingly indistinguishable copies of twentieth-century trade books accumulate their own histories and physical characteristics over time from readers’ habits and storage conditions. With regard to rare volumes, research on provenance seeks to describe not only books’ origins but also their subsequent biblio-journeys as they are read, borrowed, sold, collected, and held by institutions. Unlike studies concerned with the subject matter or content of rare books, provenance investigates the specific histories of individual copies, either by themselves or in the context of larger collections.

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