JSTOR is collaborating with the Thomas J. Watson Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Art Reference Library in a pilot project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to understand how auction catalogs can best be preserved for the long term and made most easily accessible for scholarly use. Auction catalogs are vital for provenance research as well as for the study of art markets and the history of collecting. Libraries, however, face a range of challenges with respect to their catalog collections, including preservation concerns and shelf space constraints.
This pilot project will digitize and preserve a small set of American and British auction catalogs dating from the 18th through the early 20th century, while examining how best a more extensive effort might be undertaken. To enhance access to content, JSTOR is developing new tools for digitization, such as capturing handwritten annotations that document the lots’ buyers and prices. New tools linking resources and allowing authorized users to contribute information will provide opportunities to enhance content.
Project figures and contributions:
106,000 pages scanned from 1,600+ auction catalogs
Watson contribution: 81,824 pages from 1,203 catalogs
Frick contribution: 24,807 pages from 425 catalogs
The beta project and more information about it is available at http://auctioncatalogs.jstor.org/. The results of the pilot will be submitted to the Mellon Foundation and may determine whether a larger collection will be selected and developed.
-- Dan Lipcan, Assistant Manager for Systems & Special Projects, The Metropolitan Museum of Art