The Americana Exchange Database of auction, bibliographic and dealer records of books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera crossed another threshold the other day: 3.5 million records. Comparative searches with other sources and databases suggest the AED is 8 to 10 times larger than the next alternative. One of the reasons for the difference in search results is the number of records. Another is their completeness. Records in the AED include all available data in the original source as well as additional information that can be inferred, or was only later known, an example: the buyer’s name for many auction records before 1989.
Another example of “inferred” information is an auction of the collections and dispersals of named consignors. We may not know who consigned which items but we list, for reference, the names of all consignors in the sale in the expectation that serious researchers may more easily track a specific item through various hands over its collecting life.
Next stop: 4.0