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Provenance Lost

Provenance Lost - A stamp has been cut out

While provenance is considered important by many today, it has not always been this way. Many items are often written in, but not dated by the owners, contain only first names, or had bookplates or signatures removed, damaged or scribbled over by more recent owners.

For many years, bookplate or autograph collectors have defaced books to collect samples for their collections, cutting bookplates out and adding them to separate albums. Even libraries (including our own!) have added to the elimination of provenance, covering examples of ownership or location with Library stickers, stamps or through rebinding. Booksellers can also be guilty of removing provenance in order to sell a “perfect” copy of a book.


Provenance Lost - A bookplate has been damaged Provenance Lost - A bookplate has been covered up with another bookplate Provenance Lost - A stamp has been erased

University Library

Barr Smith Library
South Australia 5005


Phone: +61 8 8313 5224