Skip to Main Content

Art Auctions and Sales: Auction Catalogs in Print

Necklace with Pendant

A choker-length necklace comprised of a braided gold chain with a single emerald pendant. The flower shaped closure is adorned with a garnet.

Necklace with Pendant, 101 CE - 300 CE, Roman, probably Egypt, gold, garnet, and emerald, Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago

About Auction Catalogs in our Collections

The University Libraries hold nearly 10,000 art auction catalogs from Christie's, Sotheby's, American Art Association, and Anderson Galleries, among others. Auction dates range from the early 20th century to the present.

These catalogs are kept in remote storage in the Library Service Center. They can be requested through the library's online catalog. Requested volumes are usually available for use at the Art Library in 2-3 business days, and are kept on hold for the requesting patron for one week. They are not available for checkout from the library. See instructions in the box to the right ("Search the Catalog for Auction Catalogs") for tips on how best to search the online catalog for them.

Search the Catalog for Auction Catalogs

There are a number of different ways to search for auction catalogs in the library catalog, including by auction house, title, sale date, or sale code (sale number).

By auction house name: In an "Author Search," enter the auction house name. You may find that there are multiple listings for the house, depending on geographical location. The primary listings are as follows:

Sotheby's (Firm)  (to see all Sotheby's, including Sotheby's Hong Kong, just enter "Sotheby's")

Christie, Manson, & Woods and Christie, Manson, & Woods International

Anderson Galleries, Inc

American Art Association

American Art Association, Anderson Galleries (Firm) [for sales conducted under both house names]

By date: In a "Call Numbers" search enter the auction house name in short form (e.g. Sotheby's, Christie's, Anderson, American Art Assoc.), followed by the date of the sale in a yyyy.mm.dd format. Or, to see all of the entries for a given year, just enter the auction house name in short form, followed by the year. Below are some sample searches:

Sotheby's 1984

Christie's 2000

Anderson 1926.04.07

By sale code: In an "ISBN/ISSN" search, enter the sale code, starting with the word element if applicable (e.g. ANNABELLE-7894). If you do not know the full code or are not getting the results you were looking for, return to the library homepage and search for the sale code as a "keyword" or "anywhere" term.

By title: Auction catalog titles can be long and may include the date of the sale, names of particular works, or collectors represented in the sale. A title search in the regular catalog interface will look for keywords within the title, and may be more forgiving of discrepancies than a title search in the classic catalog. However, auction houses frequently reuse titles and if it would be helpful to see a listing of catalogs that fall under a certain general title, you might use the classic catalog to search for the first few words in a title. For example:

"Impressionist and"

"Nineteenth and"

"Old Master"

Duke, NC Central, and NC State Borrowers

Auction catalogs may be requested through interlibrary loan for in-library consultation at your home institution. Include a note on your interlibrary loan request form explaining that these catalogs may be borrowed and will arrive as print volumes for library use only at the delivery location specified, as opposed to being transfered as a scanned document.

  • Last Updated: Sep 24, 2021 10:07 AM
  • URL: https://guides.lib.unc.edu/auctions