Provenance Research in Book History: A Handbook

SKU: BOD-1341

'The first edition of this book was published a quarter of a century ago, and much has happened since. This new one has been thoroughly revised, and in part rewritten. It is now illustrated in colour, with many fresh examples. ... Quite apart from being an invaluable handbook, Pearson's work is an important contribution to this pressing debate.' - The Library

'This edition is an essential reference tool for the book historian and supplants its predecessor.' - Library & Information History

Since this handbook was first published in 1994, interest in the book as a material object, and in the ways in which books have been owned, read and used, has burgeoned. Now established as a standard reference work, this book has been revised and expanded with a new set of over 200 colour illustrations, updated bibliographies and extended international coverage of libraries and online resources.

It covers the history and understanding of inscriptions, bookplates, ink and binding stamps, mottoes and heraldry, and describes how to identify owners and track down books from particular collections via library and sale catalogues. Each section features an evaluated bibliography listing further sources, both online and in print. Illustrated examples of the many kinds of ownership evidence which can be found in books are also shown throughout. Relevant to anyone seeking to identify previous owners of books, or trace private libraries, this title will also support the work of all book historians interested in the history of reading or the use of books and in the book as a material object. An essential handbook for anyone working in provenance research.

Praise for the First Edition:

‘It has immediately become indispensable’
David McKitterick, Times Literary Supplement

‘For the first time, scholars can turn to a well-organized, comprehensive, and accurate account of book ownership’
John Bidwell, Library Quarterly


David Pearson is a leading expert on provenance and historic books. He retired in 2017 from a career in libraries and now writes and teaches on book history.

  • Hardback
  • 448 pages, 234 x 156 mm
  • 200 colour illustrations
  • ISBN: 9781851245109
  • Publication April 2019

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