(Approved for use January 10, 2000)


Year/Number call numbers are assigned to incunabula as for other printed materials in the General Collection unless there are instructions to class with a discrete collection (as was the case for Rosenthal).


Preliminary observations: Descriptive cataloging for new incunabula is full level according to the latest edition of Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Books. All required notes are made. Signatures are generally not given if they are present in detailed bibliographies cited in the record.

Copy specific notes: Separate 590 notes are made for each of the following categories in the order given below.

Bibliographical variants (590 or 500):

590     ‡a BEIN 1999 +13: Variant with the incipit on fol. 1a printed in black, and reading "iohannis bocatij" and "hierusale."

Hand illumination (590):

This is described briefly; e.g.:

590     ‡a BEIN 1999 +13: Rubricated throughout, including large initials in gold and colors, with floral marginal decoration, at the beginning of each book. Manuscript quiring, mostly cut away. Copious manuscript marginal and interlinear annotations.

Imperfections (590):

These should be given in detail, so long as they affect the absence of entire leaves or damage to letterpress; e.g.:

590     ‡a BEIN 1999 +13: Imperfect: fol. 1-8, 202-210 (1,2,209, 210 blank) wanting; fol. 3-8 supplied in manuscript, 202-208 in photostat. Wormed with slight damage to text. Damp stained and frayed at beginning and end. Some leaves seem to have been supplied from another, smaller, copy.

Provenance (590):

This should be recorded and traced as completely as possible from the book itself, and should preferably be given in the original wording; for example:

590     ‡a BEIN 1999 +13: Provenance: "C[o]nv[en]t[us] M[o]n[aste]rij ord. Praed. Bamberge" (ms. on 2a); "Johannis Fabri, in usu[m] amicorum, 1667" (ms. on fly-leaf); Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (armorial book-plate); Sir John Henry Thorold, 12th Bart. (bookplates: Syston Hall, and monogram JHT).

Binding (590):
Binding is touched upon only if it is either contemporary (or nearly contemporary),  an extra fine modern one by a well known artistic binder, displays characteristics for which 655 binding tracings are required, or if specifically requested by the curator; e.g.:

590     ‡a BEIN 1999 +13: Binding: old stamped pigskin over wooden boards, with bosses and clamps; corner bosses and clasp hooks wanting; traces of chain-catch. Rebacked with modern pigskin. Lined with leaves from a manuscript vellum antiphonary. Binding: inlaid crimson morocco, olive morocco doublures, inside dentelles, gilt edges, by Chambolle-Duru. In black morocco case.

Bound-with notes (590):

590     ‡a BEIN 1999 +13: Tortelli, Giovanni. Iohannis Tortellii Arretini Commentariorum grammaticorum de orthographia dictionum e Graecis tractarum prooemium incipit. [Venice] : P[er] Magist[rum] Andream de Paltasichis Catharensem, Venetiis, xviii calendas Ianuarias accuratissime impressu[m], anno salutis 1488.

References to bibligraphies (510):

Cite the following references in this order:

  1. Hain (+ Copinger + Reichling, where this applies); Copinger and/or Reichling, when Hain fails
  2. Proctor
  3. the best and latest bibliography (Gesamtkatalog, British Museum, Polain, in this order of preference)
  4. Goff
  5. ISTC (record numbers with the prefix UKBY are ISTC records)
510   4 ‡a Hain-Copinger ‡c 13038*
510   4 ‡a Proctor ‡c 4288
510   4 ‡a BM 15th cent., ‡c V, p. 225
510   4 ‡a Goff ‡c P-755
510   4 ‡a ISTC ‡c UKBYIP00755000-B

In most cases these references should be sufficient, and multiplication of references should be avoided. Additional citations may be given when warranted, e.g. in those cases where a variation in type-assignment or imprint date is involved.

Additional general notes:

Additional general notes, over and above those discussed above, should be used sparingly and only when essential for identification of the book or for justification of an added entry.

Subjects and added entries:

In addition to the usual subjects, added entries, and special tracings  required for full level records, two local subject entries are made for each incunable, i.e.:

690   4 ‡a Incunabula in Yale Library.


690   4 ‡a Incunabula in Yale Library |x Single leaves.

691   4 ‡a [Country]. [City]. [Printer: (surname, forename)]. [Date].

The forms of printers' names should be kept uniform, as far as possible. Follow the forms used in tracings already in the catalog. If this is not possible the form found in the Gesamtkatalog, the British Museum XV Century Catalogue, and Goff (in this order of preference) should be chosen. The bibliographies, and even the Gesamtkatalog, are not consistent in this respect, especially as to the choice between a printer's native (German, Italian, etc.) and Latinized names. The Country is the country where the city now resides (corresponding to the place of publication code in the fixed fields). The form of the city is the current authorized form of the city. Leave out brackets. Record dates following style in Goff.  Omit brackets and question marks and include the phrases: not before, not after, before, after. Dates recorded in 260 as "between" two dates are given as a span of dates. When including day and month, give in form: year month day.

691   4 ‡a France. Strasbourg. Flach, Martin. 1487.
691   4 ‡a Italy. Venice. Speyer, Wendelin von. Not after 1473.
691   4 ‡a France. Paris. Kerver, Thielmann and Georges Wolf for Hanse de Coblencz and Jean Petit. 1499 Oct. 15.


Specimen leaves of incunabula were formerly classed in Zzi.01--Zzi.05, Zi.+06 and Zzi.07. Henceforth when cataloging single leaves or books with single leaves of incunabula, assign the local subject:

690   4 ‡a Incunabula in Yale Library |x Single leaves.

Do not also make the tracing:

690   4 ‡a Incunabula in Yale Library.


The cataloging of hitherto undescribed incunabula acquired by the Library is subject to the same rules, as set forth above, with the following exceptions:

The bibliographical references note is replaced by a statement:

500     ‡a A hitherto undescribed edition.

A statement of signatures is given; if the quires are not signed, they are given in brackets, e.g. [A-Z]8 . If the imprint is not given in the item itself, it is supplied by the cataloger and  a short note describing the type should be added, e.g.:

500     ‡a Stephan Plannck's types 70G (text and 132G (headings). Cf. BM 15th cent., IV, plate IX.

If there is internal evidence which fixes the imprint date more narrowly than type assignment alone, that too should be mentioned, for example, the reference to a dated historical event, the accession to the throne of a king or pope, etc. Any type-assignment should be checked by the cataloger by referring, in the first place, to the reproductions and descriptions of types in the BM catalog, and, if necessary, to other helps.

Reporting to the ISTC:

The Bibliographic record numbers of newly cataloged incunabula are sent to the Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts, who in turn reports new holdings to ISTC.

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