What Counts as Provenance Evidence?

by Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books

Adversaria: Special Collections Provenance at MSU

The student of provenance is beset by many problems.  Inscriptions in books may be illegible, damaged, defaced, or removed altogether.  Bookplates… may be partly or wholly torn out, or may have other bookplates pasted on top… Many marks of ownership in early books rely on heraldry, an ancient discipline whose arcane codes and terminology are not immediately accessible to many people today.”

– David Pearson, Provenance Research in Book History

Last week, we introduced the concept of rare book provenance, and briefly discussed some of the difficulties involved in its study.  This week, we’re going to be wading even deeper into the pool of provenance issues by asking you, the reader, what you think might be important enough to warrant recording as provenance evidence.  I would hardly consider myself an expert in provenance markers (I’m learning more every day), and much of what I know now I’ve had to…

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