N.Y.). Library Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York.

Classification systems used in the Library. Photograph classification, Book classification online

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THIS pamphlet is issued by the Trustees of the Metropoli-
tan Museum of Art in response to many inquiries which
have been received as to the system followed in the ar-
rangement and cataloguing of the books and photographs
in the library of the Museum. To the two authors belongs the
credit of having worked out, each in her respective department,
the method of classification which is set forth in the following
pages, and which has successfully stood the test of an experience
that has included rapid growth, the transference of books and
photographs from small, cramped quarters to the ample space
provided in our new library, and a constantly increasing use on
the part of students and other visitors.

Edward Robinson,

December, igii.



Classification for Photographs


Introduction 3

Tables 21

Index 27

Classification for Books

Introduction 33

Tables 35

Index 95



Labels 5


Showing storage of photographs opposite 6

Cases for Photographs.

Drawing showing construction 7

Facsimiles of Cards 9-14





THE Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains
a collection of photographs of Architecture, Sculpture, and
Painting, and of all creative work that may be included
under the term Minor Arts, or Decorative Arts. The
collection had already grown beyond the number of 15,000, and was
being used by a variety of art students, archaeologists, connoisseurs,
collectors, and craftsmen, when the work of classification and cata-
loguing was commenced. Several librarians and collections of photo-
graphs were consulted, and each system of classification was found to
differ from every other according to the class of students that used
the photographs. In view of the breadth of this collection, and the
wide range of students that were likely to consult it, the need became
increasingly evident of a classification that should be logical and con-
sistent, simple and easy of application, and entirely comprehensible
to an>one who should use the photographs for any purpose. It was
to satisfy these requirements that this classification was arranged, and
it is now published, together with notes on cataloguing and all other
points connected with the handling of photographs, in the hope that
it may prove useful to the growing number of art librarians and teach-
ers who desire help and information, many of whom have sought such
help at the Metropolitan Museum.

The more important steps in the care of photographs are taken up
in the order in which they naturally follow one another, the explana-
tion of the Classification being placed at the end of the Introduction.


The majority of the photographs in this collection have been pur-
chased of the foreign dealers in person, not ordered by mail. Valua-
ble notes on this subject and on the mounting of photographs will be
found in the preface of a pamphlet entitled List of Photograph Deal-


4 ■' ■ : .'i 'iNTRpbOcT.iON: photographs

ers, compiled by Miss Ethcldrcd Abbot (1907), and obtainable of
Miss Hooper, Librarian of the Public Library of Brookline, Mass,


All photographs are accessioned before they are mounted, in large
books that contain 5000 entries each. Every left-hand page is num-
bered for forty photographs, and the items are entered under these
headings, running across both pages: Accession No., Class, Artist,
Subject, Original in. Photographer and Number, Process {i.e., kind of
print). Size of Print, Size of Mount, Cost of Print, Cost of Mount,
Source (gift or purchase), Where obtained, Remarks. The ac-
cession number is written in pencil on the back of the photograph,
whence it is transferred by the mounter to the mount. It is then
written in ink on the paper label after it is pasted on the mount (see
below), and on the back of the main catalogue card (p. 9). Each
lot of photographs should be accessioned as soon as possible after it is
received, and the date of accessioning noted in the extreme left-hand
margin of the page. Experience has shown that it is more practicable
to keep accounts of expenditures for photographs and mounting in a
separate book, in which the itemized bills may be entered entire,
rather than in the Accession Book.


Notes on mounting will be found in the pamphlet referred to
above (p. 3). All mounting for this collection has been done with
entire satisfaction by the Rose Bindery of Boston, Mass. Dark
mounts, known as stone gray and steel gray, have been used in prefer-
ence to the light gray, as they harmonize better with the tones of the
photographs and are less easily soiled. For some of the larger carbon
prints, brown mounts have been chosen. It is of the greatest impor-
tance that the mounting should be well done in order to prevent warp-
ing, and that the mounts should be light in weight, thin, and flexible,
yet tough.


The photographer's label is removed from the print in most cases
before mounting, as it is often inaccurate and alwa\s unsightly. This
fact and the dark color of the mount, which makes writing on it illeg-
ible, necessitate the pasting of a white paper label on the back of each
mount, in the upper right-hand corner. The following forms were
adopted, (1) for Architecture, (2) for Sculpture and Painting, (3) for
the Minor Arts. The labels measure 2M x 3^ inches.

The paper of the labels is thin, and the paste (Higgins' Photo
Mounter) is applied as lightly and as dry as possible to prevent its
curling the mount.






The Metropolitan
Museum of Art






The Metropolitan
Museum of Art







The Metropolitan
Museum or Art



6 introduction: photographs

The blank lines of the label are filled in with information necessary
to identify the photograph. In the case of this collection, where the
photographs had to be labeled and stacked for use before they could
be catalogued, brief information taken from the Accession Book was
written in pencil on the labels, and a tentative class and division
number assigned. After each photograph is catalogued and finally
classified, information corresponding with the catalogue card is
written in ink.


The photographs are stacked in oak cases especially designed for
this collection. As will be seen from the illustrations, a case has one
vertical partition and three horizontal shelves. Each of these six
divisions has its own door, which opens downward to the horizontal
and provides a shelf upon which to draw out the photographs. In
each division are upright partitions forming fifteen compartments,
with a card holder above each one and a card indicating briefly the
contents of the compartment. These card holders are of brass, and are
attached to the outside of the shelf doors in such a way that the con-
tents of a compartment can be read before as well as after the shelf
door has been opened. That is, the card holders for one shelf are
placed on the lower part of the door of the shelf above it, the upper
row being placed on the case itself, beneath the top moulding. Each
door is held firmly in place, when closed, by a steel bar that slides
through its upper edge into sockets in the case at either end, and is
operated by a knob in the centre of the upper panel of the door. One
compartment easily holds from 45 to 50 photographs, so that the
capacity of the whole case is between 4000 and 4500, there being 90
compartments in a case. These cases hold the three smaller sizes of
mounts, II X 14, 14 x 18, and 18x22 inches. The photographs are
stacked like books; that is, they stand on end and the class numbers
read from left to right, the photographs facing to the right so that the
class numbers are easily seen on the white labels in the upper right-
hand corner of the back, as above noted.

For mounts larger than 18x22 inches, another specially de-
signed case is provided, with shallow sliding shelves and dust-proof
double doors. The photographs are laid flat and face down, with
the white label conspicuous in the outer right-hand corner of the
back. To protect the face of the lowest photograph a sheet of
paper or pasteboard should be placed on the shelf.




II . Ij.., - SECTION ,




8 introduction: photographs


The work of cataloguing photographs if done thoroughly is
necessarily slow. It is well to start out by doubting the accuracy
of the photographer's label in the case of paintings, or at least be-
lieving it to be wrong until it is proved right, not only by the gallery
catalogue, but also by careful study of the best authorities in art
histories, monographs, and periodicals. For identifying architec-
tural photographs, Baedeker's Guide Books are most useful. Once
this research work is satisfactorily accomplished — that is, the gal-
lery and artist attributions determined — the actual work of print-
ing the catalogue cards may be done. The neatest, clearest, most
compact and uniform cards can be printed on a typewriter, the
Hammond being used here. For use on this machine, the cards
may be fairly heavy, and should of course be without lines, with
the exception of top and left-hand margins.

In cataloguing, the aim should be to make each card describe
the photograph sufficiently to identify it and to show its position
in the case. Unnecessary and complex details that distract and
confuse the layman (such as size and kind of print, photographer,
etc.) should be omitted, as they can be found in the Accession
Book, in the rare instances when they are desired. If no Accession
Book is used, the items can be entered on the back of the main cat-
alogue card, in such a way as not to interfere with other entries
noted below (p. 9); or, better, on the back of the shelf-list card,
which is blank.


The method of cataloguing each class of photographs should be
in harmony with the scheme of classification. That is, on the
main card for a photograph of a building (Architecture), the first
word on the top margin line is the name of the city, as in this
classification the photographs are arranged alphabetically b>' cities
under the different country divisions, as will be seen later (p. 16).
Next follows, also on the top line, the name of the building, given
either in English or in the language of the country, according to
best usage, as found in Baedeker's Guides. On the second line,
indented five spaces (about one-half inch), should be shown the ex-
act part of the building represented in the photograph, using al-
ways first the general term Exterior or Interior. It is desirable
also, for the sake of alphaheting together the cards for all views of
the same part of the building, to state next whether it is west side,
or apse, or south aisle, or court fagade, etc. For example, we have
a photograph showing a part of an exterior doorway of Chartres
Cathedral, and the card reads as follows:

introduction: photographs



CHARTRES, Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

Exterior, north transept, porch: coving
of east side of central doorway.


CARD FOR architecture: FACE

On the reverse of the card, where it can be read without being
taken from the tray, are printed the accession number and a list of the
subject headings by which this photograph is represented in the cat-
alogue. The purpose of this is, of course, to make it possible to
remove from the catalogue all cards for one photograph, in case of
additions or other changes.


Architecture, Gothic, in France.
Sculpture, Gothic, French.

241 1 1

CARD FOR architecture: REVERSE

It is essential to make subject style cards for every important
building to accommodate students in the history of architecture who
wish to see many examples of a style, but do not know in what places
they exist. Also, in the case of the photograph under consideration,
for students of mediaeval sculpture we make a subject card under
Sculpture, Gothic, French.


introduction: photographs

The subject catalogue should be regarded as a supplement to the
classification, and therefore of great importance. For any classifica-
tion can arrange the photographs in but one order; and whereas it
may stack together, as in this case, all details of Chartres Cathedral
and be satisfactory for a student of architecture, it can not also keep
in one class all examples of Gothic sculpture, most of which exist as
adjuncts of the cathedral architecture of the period. Any features
of the building that may interest an architect, or perhaps assist in
identifying some other photograph, are also noted, such as towers,
rose windows, doorways, balustrades, and particularly any ornament
characteristic of a style. Again, for the student of sculpture or icon-
ography, the subjects of reliefs and statues are entered in the subject
catalogue. For each building a card is made, giving the historic
style, dates, names of architects, etc.

Only one photograph is represented on each 'maJn card, except in
the case of a duplicate, when the words "Same, another copy" are
added two lines below the first entry, and its number is placed in the
margin opposite. On the contrary, a subject card may represent the
entire series of views of one building, when the form is as follows:


ARCHITECTURE, Gothic, in France.

201 L

Chartres, Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

Exterior, ensemble from northwest.


" north side and details.


" south " " "


" west portal, details.

305, 308

Interior, nave and south transept.

Painting and Sculpture

The artist cards (that is, the main cards) for painting and
sculpture have much the same form as an author card for a
book. Preceding each artist's cards in the catalogue is a biography
card which gives his full name, dates, school, and all variations
of his name. The first line of the main card contains the artist's
name, the best known form being adopted, and only the initials of his
given names. The second line gives the title of the picture or piece
of sculpture, in English with rare exceptions. The gallery in which

introduction: photographs

1 1

it is found is placed two lines below the title. Below this may be
placed a brief note as to disputed attribution or other facts that would
help to identify the photograph. Cross references are made from
unused forms of the artist's name, and rejected attributions, as well as
secondary artist cards in the case of "joint authorship." Gallery
cards are made for painting, sculpture, and the minor arts, as well as
subject cards. As in cataloguing architecture, the accession number
and list of subject headings are printed on the back of the card, and a
painting and all its details may be entered on one subject or gallery

A few typical examples may be given.

(i) Form for main artist card for painting and sculpture.


DYCK, A. van.


Portrait of a little girl with dogs.

Antwerp, Royal Museum.

(Dogsby J.Fyt).

(2) Form for secondary artist card, for disputed attributions, etc.


FYT, J. see also


Dyck, A. van.

Portrait of a little girl with dogs.

(Dogs by J.Fyt).

Antwerp, Royal Museum.


introduction: photographs

(3) Form for the gallery card for Painting, Sculpture, and the
Minor Arts.



ANTWERP, Royal Museum.

Dvck, A. van.

Portrait of a little girl with dogs.
(Dogs by J. Fyt).


(4) Form for the subject card for Painting, Sculpture, and the
Minor Arts, with a painting and detail on one card.


PORTRAITS, Children, Flemish.


Dyck, A. van.

Portraits of William II, Prince of Orange,

and his bride, Henrietta Maria Stuart.


Same, detail: head of Henrietta Maria.

Amsterdam, Rj'ks Museum.

Works by an unknown pupil, follower, etc., of an artist are ar-
ranged immediately after his own works by adding a figure to his
Cutter author number: i for Copy of, 2 for Pupil of, 3 for School of,
4 for Follower or Style of. The card is written as shown on page 13.

In the case of paintings and sculpture by unknown artists, the
photographs arc catalogued and stacked under "Master" or "School,"
with a sufficient addition to the Cutter number representing these
words to keep all of one school and century together. The first line of

introduction: photographs



DYCK, A. van, Copy of.


Portrait of Abbe Scaglia.

Antwerp, Royal Museum.

(Copy of an original in the possession of Capt.

G. L. Holford, London.)

the card would read: Master of Flemalle, and the class and author

number would be M423FI; or, School (Painting, French) of Amiens,

15th century, with the number S372Am5; or School (Sculpture,

Greek) Archaic, with the number S3722, assuming that Greek sculp-
ture by unknown artists is divided into (i) prehistoric, (2) archaic,
(3) 5th century, etc. In the case of Egyptian (and Assyrian) sculp-
ture where no artists' names are known, the author line of the main
card reads: Sculptor, Egyptian, 1 8th dynasty. The class number is

18 , with additions in the second line to group together all sculp-
ture from the same local school or of the same provenance.

Wherever necessary, cross reference cards should be made, as:
Painting, French, see.. School (Painting, French), etc. Cards with
lists of artists in the various schools, of whose work photographs are
to be found in the collection, may be kept in the catalogue if desired,
as: School (Sculpture, Greek) 4th century B.C., see also Bryaxis,
Damophon, Lysippus, Praxiteles, Scopas. The names should be
written in a column and arranged alphabetically. For the larger
schools, as the Florentine school of painting in Italy, lists on sheets of
paper would be preferable, if it is desirable to save space in the cata-
logue case.

Minor Arts

The name of an artist is rarely known in connection with
any of the Minor Arts. The important items are the craft and
the style (locality and century, or smaller division), as will be seen in
the notes on classification (p. 18). The author line on the main card,

14 introduction: photographs

therefore, gives the kind of work, the country, and century, as: Gold,
Egyptian, 12th dynasty, the word gold being understood to mean
work in gold, or goldsmith, as author. The second line gives the
name of the object, followed by a description sufficient to identify it,
and its provenance, in most cases. The gallery is given two lines
below the title, as in Painting and Sculpture.



GOLD, Egyptian, 12th dynasty.

Crown of gold and colored stones, alter-
nating lyres and rosettes; from tomb of Prin-
cess Khnumuit, at Dnhshur.

Cairo, Museum.

Subject cards are necessary for the name of the object, as Chair,
Chippendale; or for the class of object, as in this case. Jewelry,
Egyptian. Provenance cards are similar in form to subject cards.
Artist cards, where the artist or maker is known, ha\'e the form
of secondary artist cards, given on page 1 1, and the gallery card is
identical with the sample on page 12.

A shelf-list card is made for every photograph. Its form is
similar to the main card, but the title is much simplified, and the
accession number is printed on the face, in the lower left-hand
margin. The back, as noted above (p. 8), may give items of
size, publisher, etc., if desired. These cards are of course filed by
the class number and are kept in catalogue trays separate from
the main catalogue.


As was said in the beginning of the Introduction, the aim of this
Classification is to be simple and logical, }'et comprehensive enough
to cover all forms of art in all countries. 1 1 is not especially designed
for the archaeologist, who would place together all Greek art from
architecture to terracottas; nor for the student of mediaeval art,
who would place together everything of one st>le from a Gothic
Cathedral to a panel of Gothic wood carving. This arrangement,

introduction: photographs 15

though it has undoubted advantages, would not be convenient for the
student who is interested simply in architecture or in wood carving.
Experience has shown that it is more practical to give to each class of
the arts its own number and to subdivide it by countries, depending
on the subject catalogue or one's knowledge of art in general to bring
together all the work of one nation or one period, as it is manifested
in various forms of art.

All creative work in the arts was easily divided into nine main
classes (p. 21), and each class of such work, whether of the architect,
the silversmith, or the furniture designer, was considered by itself as
showing a somewhat continuous development from the pre-Christian
era to the present in the important countries of the world. It re-
mained to arrange a system of notation that should express this inde-
pendence of the arts, and yet serve to trace their development and to
show the influence of the art of one nation upon that of its neighbors.
A decimal classification with a figure notation was adopted unhesi-
tatingly as being the most elastic and the clearest to write and to read,
as well as the most logical means of emphasizing or subordinating
points. Thus Architecture stands by itself as 100, and work of the
silversmith by itself and yet subordinated, under 560, that is, the 6th
section of Metal Work, 500.

It should be kept in mind that for the general public a simple geo-
graphical and alphabetical arrangement is undoubtedly best suited.
Beginning with the pre-Christian era in Asia, the art of Architecture is
divided into two great time-periods (ancient and modern) and by
countries, following in its main outlines the progress of civilization,
while at the same time keeping together countries that though unim-
portant are contiguous to those of greater prominence. Similarly, all
classes of the arts are given the same chronological and geographical
sequence. In this way, each art or craft in each country has been
assigned a separate number, regardless of whether any examples of it
exist or not. The dividing line between ancient and modern is drawn
at about the beginning of the Christian era. Inasmuch as the pagan
influence actually extended beyond the year i a.d., Roman art and
Early Christian art overlap in point of date, but all late Roman art,
being pre-Christian in style, is classed as ancient. All Roman archi-
tecture in Europe, for instance, though it may date in the early cen-
turies A.D., is numbered 1 30. No further chronological or style divi-
sions are made in the main classification, as of Romanesque, Gothic,
and Renaissance in architecture, or of Schools in painting, since they
would tend to destroy the simplicity of the original scheme and inev-
itable confusion of styles would arise. The subject catalogue is so
arranged as to group the architectural photographs by styles (p. 9)
and lists of painters and sculptors grouped by schools are kept easily
accessible (p. 13). The secondary division of all arts is therefore in-

i6 introduction: photographs

dicatcd in the second line of the class number, as will be explained


To classify architecture further under the country division, the
most obvious method is an alphabetical arrangement by cities,
since st>ies are disregarded. The second line in the class number
therefore stands for the city, the Cutter three-figure author table
being used here as well as for the names of the artists in painting

. '32
and sculpture. Thus classic architecture in Rome is R763; in Nimes,

(France) it is N713.

The third line of the class number must provide an individual
number for each building in a city and for all of its details. For this

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Online LibraryN.Y.). Library Metropolitan Museum of Art (New YorkClassification systems used in the Library. Photograph classification, Book classification → online text (page 1 of 10)