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Reading Early Printed Books: Provenance

A Guide to the Book as Artifact

Provenance Evidence in Early Printed Books

Provenance evidence helps identify the history of ownership of a book from its creation to the shelves of USC Libraries' Special Collections.This evidence can take the form of bookplates, annotations, and bindings as shown below.

Left: Fiue bookes of philosophicall comfort, by Boethius (London, 1609); Bookplates of Herbert Wildon & Geraldine Carr, and Ralph Tyler Flewelling


Right:Expositio magistri Petri Tatereti in summulas Petri hyspani (Lyon, 1509); Armorial binding of 
William George Spencer Cavendish,
6th Duke of Devonshire

Provenance Terms & Definitions

There are several types of provenance terms to describe the evidence of ownership in early printed books. Special Collections uses vocabulary from the Rare Books & Manuscripts Provenance Evidence Terms list.

Term types include:

Search terms within each type used at USC can be found in the box to the left.

Subject Guide

Melinda Hayes's picture
Melinda Hayes
Doheny Library 248