Reporting to the ISTC

The bibliographic descriptions and call numbers of newly cataloged incunabula are sent to the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue project at the British Library (


Call Numbers

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).

Catalog Records

Descriptive cataloging for new incunabula is full level according to the latest edition of Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books). All required notes are made.

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 leaf 1a printed in black, and reading "iohannis bocatij" and "hierusale."

Hand illumination (590)

This is described briefly.

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.

590     ‡a BEIN 1999 +13: Imperfect: leaves 1-8, 202-210 (1,2,209, 210 blank) wanting; leaves 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.

590     ‡a BEIN 1999 +13: Provenance: "C[o]nv[en]t[us] M[o]n[aste]rij ord. Praed. Bamberge" (manuscript on 2a); "Johannis Fabri, in usu[m] amicorum, 1667" (manuscript 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.

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)

General Beinecke Bound-with procedures are followed.

References to bibligraphies (510)

Cite the following references in this order:

  1. The best and latest bibliography (Gesamtkatalog, British Museum, Polain, in this order of preference)
  2. Goff
  3. ISTC
510 4   ‡a Catalogue of books printed in the XVth century now in the British Museum, ‡c V, page 225
510 4   ‡a Goff, F.R. Incunabula in American libraries, ‡c P-755
510 4   ‡a Incunabula short title catalogue, ‡c ip00755000

In most cases these references should be sufficient, and multiplication of references should be avoided. Additional citations may be given when warranted, in 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

Always use the following genre term:

655   7 ‡a Incunabula. ‡2 rbmscv

Additionally, two local subject entries are made for each incunable:

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 260/264 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.


Provide added entries for all printers, publishers and/or booksellers as instructed in the Imprints Tracings page.

Always provide a 752 Hierarchical Place Name added entry for the place of publication (usually subfields a and d [country and city]). Use a standardized form based on the 781 field of the place name authority record. For more information see the Hierarchical Place Names section of the Imprints Tracings page.

Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI) Project

For material entered into the Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI) database project, always provide the following link in the holdings record for the specific copy:

856 4   ‡z Detailed provenance description available in Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI) database ‡u[MEI Copy Id]


General treatment

Treat a fragmentary copy of an incunable or early printed resource in the same manner as other imperfect copies. See: DCRM(B) 0B2.2 Imperfect copies.

Fragment from a known edition

If the fragment can be definitively matched to a known edition or issue (including fragments in leaf books), catalog the item as an imperfect copy. Add the description to a record describing a perfect (or more perfect) copy.

Use judgment about enhancing the record for the perfect copy. Replace a poor record with a more complete record from OCLC, if available. Exercise restraint in editing transcription fields and physical descriptions. Add or enhance access points and bibliographic references as appropriate.

In a 590 note, specify the location of the fragment within the edition. Always indicate the pagination, foliation, or signature, if present.

590     ‡a BEIN BrSides 2014 40: Imperfect: leaf CCXVI only, with text concerning Rudolf I of Germany, and others.

If the edition lacks pagination, foliation, or signatures, indicate the location of the fragment with an inferred page number, leaf number, or signature, or provide a concise summary of the content represented in the fragment (e.g., Bible chapter and verse).

590     ‡a BEIN Zi +66: Imperfect: leaves [53]-[54] (signatures [f]₅-₆) only.
590     ‡a BEIN ZZi 56 Copy 2: Imperfect: consists of a single rubricated paper leaf of Ezekiel XXX,11-XXXII,13. Issued as part of A Noble Fragment (New York: Gabriel Wells, 1921).

Fragment from an unknown edition

If the fragment cannot be matched to a known edition or issue, base the description on the imperfect copy.  First, if possible, supply the title and author of the text in the original language by which the work is identified in modern reference sources or printed editions. If the title and author cannot be supplied, devise a descriptive title on the basis of the genre or nature of the text (e.g., Calendarium, Gradual, Herbal).
Identify the location of the fragment or provide a concise summary of the content represented in the fragment. If neither location or summary can be identified, include the exact incipit and explicit of the text. In order to facilitate identification of the fragment further, provide a detailed physical description.

Assign subject and genre terms relevant to the text and to the information included in the fragment in hand, not the work as a whole.

Genre/form terms for fragments

For all fragments, including bifolia, whole leaves, and portions of leaves, use the following genre/form term:

655   7 ‡a Fragments (object portions) ‡2 aat ‡5 CtY-BR

For portions of leaves deliberately cut to preserve a portion of decoration or text, also add the following genre/form term:

655   7 ‡a Cuttings (partial works) ‡2 aat ‡5 CtY-BR

Analytic descriptions

If the fragment represents a component warranting separate cataloging (e.g., an individual map from an atlas or an individual illustration), apply guidance for Offprints and Detached copies. See also: 

  • DCRM(C) Appendix M: Notes on Source of Map 
  • DCRM(G) Appendix K: Illustrations in Books and Serials 

Hitherto Undescribed Incunabula

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, for example [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.

500     ‡a Stephan Plannck's types 70G (text) and 132G (headings). See: Catalogue of books printed in the XVth century now in the British Museum, 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.

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