provenance ☜☞ marca de procedencia

Provenance is the record of ownership of an item, usually of an item of inherent value, sometimes made even more valuable by the association of previous owners. It is rare to talk about the provenance of a single suelta, it is more common to talk about the origin and history of a entire  collection. Few of the holdings of comedias sueltas surveyed in U.S. academic and research libraries have a defined pedigree. The collections of the Hispanic Society of America and of the Boston Public Library speak of interesting previous ownerships. More often, smaller collections are gifts from retired faculty or their heirs such as the case of California State Dominguez Hills campus or the sueltas donated by Milton A. Buchanan to the University of Toronto library. Most collections were built by incremental purchases or small gifts over many years.

There can be evidence of previous ownership in an individual suelta or in a volume because of a stamp, book plate, or signature. Provenance is in direct relationship with the person’s prominence or scholarship in the field of study: the better known the previous collector or scholar, the more valuable the collection. There is a dedicated field in library catalogue records to make note of this information.

See also: accession number, annotations, bookplate / ex-libris, stamps / collector’s mark