The Sales Catalogs Files are a physical repository for the photocopies of most of the documents indexed in the Getty Provenance Index® Sales Catalogs database. The copies represent more than 10,000 auction and private contract sales catalogs from dozens of European and American institutions, making this the most comprehensive collection of its kind for the periods covered. In many cases, the collection contains multiple versions of a catalog, each of which may have different hand annotations.

Time Periods and Countries Covered

The time periods and countries covered reflect those of the Provenance Index Sales Catalogs database, listing sales that took place in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands between 1670 and 1870.

The most comprehensive coverage for each country is as follows:

  • Belgium: 1668–1840
  • Britain: 1751–1760, 1780–1850
  • Netherlands: 1801–1820
  • France: 1701–1800, 1808–1820
  • Germany: 1670–1800

Sections of the Sales Catalogs database that are not represented in the Sales Catalogs Files include Scandinavian catalogs, 17th- and 18th-century Dutch catalogs, and French catalogs from 1801–7. However, many of these catalogs may be found in the Collectors Files or in Primo Search.

Scope of Catalogs Covered

The Sales Catalogs Files include catalogs of paintings, drawings, sculptures, tapestries, miniatures, and enamels. For the 19th century, coverage is limited to sales that include paintings. For the 17th and 18th centuries, coverage of object types varies by country. In addition to fine art sales, book sales, print sales, and sales of general household goods may be included if they contain relevant objects. For instance, an 18th-century British print sale may be included if drawings were also part of the sale. For large sales, only the relevant section of the catalog may be included.

To view each country's coverage in greater detail, see What's Covered in the Databases.

Two Significant Series

The Sales Catalogs Files also include two significant series that are not accessible through the database.

  • The Houlditch series includes a selection of British sales from 1711–59, transcribed by the collector Richard Houlditch Jr., who attended the sales and recorded the results. These documents are photocopies of the original manuscript held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (Houlditch, Sale catalogues of the principal collections of pictures, one hundred and seventy one in number, sold by auction in England within the years 1711–1759, MSS. London, ca. 1760, 2 vols. National Art Library at the V&A, MSL/1938/867-868).

  • The Procès-Verbaux series includes a selection of French sales from 1824–70, based on the availability of the sale results, or procès-verbaux, for French auctions. These results were maintained in the files of the individual auctioneers and a limited number survive from the 19th century.

Sale Results

Copies of sales catalogs often include handwritten annotations providing information about the sale results, including the seller, buyer, sale price, and other notes. This information may come from the auctioneer or from a collector who attended the sale. The Sales Catalogs Files include as many copies of each sale as possible, each of which may have different annotations.

Additional information on some sale results can be found in the Annotation Worksheets files, which list the various annotations for each sale.


The Sales Catalogs Files, housed in the Getty Research Institute's library, are available to Readers and staff after an initial orientation. Contact Library Reference to make an appointment or for more information on accessing the catalogs.