Provenance - The ownership history of books
Many of the volumes now held in the Special Collections Department have an interesting provenance and previously belonged to famous figures from the past. We are always interested in discovering the provenance of books in our care in order to establish their history prior to their entry into our collections. We can do this by studying the book for evidence of autographs, bookplates, manuscript notes and stamped bindings. This can help trace how copies of books have changed ownership over the years, and how different generations of readers may have used them. As well as the intrinsic interest in the previous ownership of the volumes, the works themselves sometimes throw a fascinating light on the character and enthusiasms of their owners. The items in this virtual exhibition are representative of the rich diversity held within the department’s collections.
Research, text, images and captions by Fiona Neale, Special Collections Department: April 2011.
View the exhibition by selecting items of interest from the thumbnails below, or read about the books in order: go to the first book.
King Louis XIV
Madame de Pompadour
Thomas De Quincey
Sir Walter Scott
William Ewart Gladstone
Alexander Graham Bell