Skip to Main Content

Art Auctions (Sales) Catalogues

About the collection

The collection includes approximately 305 metres of catalogues of sales mostly by Christie's, Sotheby's and Foster's, with some by Bonhams and Phillips.  The Christie's and Sotheby's catalogues date back to the 18th Century and run until 2020 when publication of the printed catalogues ceased. Many of the catalogues give details of the price each lot was sold for, either by hand-written notes at the time of the sale or by the addition of a printed slip after the sale. The catalogues have been acquired through subscription or donation and reflect the interests of curators and the focus of the Barber Institute’s collecting policy over the years. 

We recently accepted a donation of catalogues from Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (BMAG) covering a wide range of sales, especially decorative arts, objects of vertu, musical instruments, celebrity and house sales, which were under-represented in our own holdings.


Printed items

The catalogues are housed in the Research Reserve (RRART) in three main sequences, each arranged in chronological order:

  • Picture Sales
  • Non-Pictures Sales
  • Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) Collection.


The following microforms are housed in Research Reserve (RRART):

  • Foster's 1885-1940
  • Phillips' 1796-1843
  • Sotheby's 1851-1900

They can be consulted in the Allport Room

Accessibility statement