Intellectual Order: Inventory and Cataloging

The King scrapbooks have been cursorily inventoried. The images have never been cataloged. The problem of inventory and cataloging is compounded by a number of factors: 


  1. Not all of the items require individual cataloging, but all of the prints should be inventoried. 
  2. The Library does not have an adequate art reference collection to create cataloging records for most of the items to be cataloged. 
  3. Many of the prints have been trimmed, and information essential to their cataloging has been lost. 
  4. Some of the prints and drawings are mounted in such a way as to obscure the reverse side. The back of an old print sometimes offers valuable information in cataloging. 
  5. Most but, unfortunately, not all of the prints have been mounted and bound in proper sequence. Some prints in a series, however, are quite distant from others, and in some instances prints have come loose from their mount and are loosely inserted where they clearly did not originally belong. 
  6. Cataloging requires training in art history, the history of graphic arts, graphic media, and paper conservation. 


The following section outlines some of the process in inventory and cataloging. 


The print below will serve as an example:     


Simultaneously to being inventoried, the print is described, all words are transcribed, and the measurements, in this case, 9¼" x 4½", are recorded. 


The inventory record for this print would begin: 


12.066. Girl carrying water jugs, one in right hand, one on head. Seen from rear standing on two steps. Engraving, trimmed to plate mark. Engraved in plate "Raf. Urb. pinx. Doncker d." Initialed.  Upper right corner bears engraved number "18." 






To catalog this Mannerist print - or even to inventory it in a satisfactory way - one would have to know who the engraver (who signed his name solely with the monogram) was. 


6½" x 8¾"


G.K.Nagler's Die Monogrammisten (Munich: Georg Franz, 1858) indicates that the engraver is Jan de Bisschop, known as Johannes Episcopius. 

from Die Monogrammisten (Munich: Georg Franz, 1858)


In the card inventory of volume 12 (below), from which this print is taken, the whole range of Bisschop prints is listed as "not identified." 

A letter code evaluating the quality of each of the prints is assigned by the appropriate curator. The following letters might be used: 


"A" Print or drawing of highest value

"B" Print or drawing of aesthetic, monetary, or historical interest

"C" A good print

"D" An undistinguished print


Another letter code evaluating the condition of each of the prints is assigned by the curator or conservator. The following letters might be used: 


"W" Condition good to optimum

"X" Small folds or tears/minor staining Minimum conservation needed

"Y" Extensive folding, tearing/badly stained

"Z" Ruined state


Inventory is created in a computer database. 

"A," "B," and "C" prints are cataloged with full information for the "A" and "B" prints and minimal information for the "C" prints. 

"D" prints are inventoried only and are not cataloged. 




The two prints below are from a series by Rubens on Marie de Medici. Both are "A" prints, i.e., "of the highest value." 

The print below left would have a condition code of "W" (good to optimum); the one at right would bear a code of "Z" (ruined state). In this case the ruined print would be encapsulated and inventoried but not cataloged.  




 This 18th- or early 19th-century drawing in the manner of Flaxman (1755 - 1826) would be assigned the quality code "A" and the condition code "W." Once it is removed from the actual scrapbook page, its verso may reveal more about its origins. First drawn in pencil with many erasures, the drawing was next outlined in part with black ink. A broader stroked brown ink completed the drawing. 



Directly below: a selection of "D" (undistinguished) prints. Such prints represent only about one-eighth of the King collection. They were useful icons for an artist but are of little interest in and of themselves. The entirety of the prints, however, tells us about artistic tastes and interests in early 19th-century United States.