The National Art Library has an extensive collection of sales catalogues from the United Kingdom, Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States. The Library aims to collect catalogues from the world’s major auction houses and dealers. It also acquires catalogues from other sources that describe the contents of outstanding sales or discrete collections of interest for the history of art, craft and design or which include material of interest to Victoria and Albert Museum collections. The strength of the National Art Library’s sales catalogues collection lies in its coverage of the major pre-20th century sales throughout Europe, rather than in runs from particular houses. Subjects covered by the catalogues are in line with the Library’s general collecting policy.

Major British Auction House Runs in the National Art Library

The Library holds the following sales catalogues, among others, including priced and unpriced runs from Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The inclusive dates given below indicate the start and end date of the Library’s holdings. They should not be taken to infer that our holdings between such dates are comprehensive.

  • Bonham’s, London,1972-
  • Christie’s, London, 1769-
  • Christie’s [priced], 1867-1965
  • Foster’s [priced], 1815-1937
  • Knight, Frank & Rutley [priced], 1896-1969 (on permanent loan to the National Art Library from the company)
  • Phillip’s, London, 1976-
  • Sotheby’s, London, 1801-
  • Sotheby’s [priced], 1926-65

In addition, the National Art Library holds microform copies of some catalogues, including:

  • Sotheby & Co. catalogues of sales [1734-1900] [microfilm copies of Sotheby’s sales catalogues, from the British Museum collection.] Printed guide at pressmark: REF 707.5 SOT
  • Art sales catalogues , [1600-1900] [microfilm copies of sales catalogues listed in: Lugt, Frits, ‘Répertoire des catalogues de ventes publiques intéressant d’art ou la curiosité … ‘, The Hague: Nijhoff, 1938-1987. 4 vols. (Vol 4 published Paris: Fondation Custodia, 1987).]  Printed guide at pressmark: REF 707.5 LUG