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Although the chronological scope of the catalogue was originally intended to cover the past century, the lack of information available has meant that though sales from the early 20 century have been included, it is only in a very few cases that the present day whereabouts of those copies is known.For more recent sales, Christie's and Sotheby's, as the auction house through which the vast majority of more recent copies have been sold, have been exceptionally helpful.While these innovations have undoubtedly shortened dramatically the amount of time researchers have to spend physically turning the pages of printed catalogues, the "detective techniques" used by Owen Gingerich in his still provide the mainstay of this research.
Eleven books are definitely in private collections today; another three were initially bought privately but could not be found.
The Fabrica of Andreas Vesalius sheds a fresh light on the book’s vibrant reception history and documents how physicians, artists, theologians and collectors filled its pages with copious annotations.
It also offers a novel interpretation of how an early anatomical textbook became one of the most coveted rare books for collectors in the 21st century.
Once it had been ascertained which institutions owned copies of the 1555 edition, requests were sent to the relevant librarians for any bibliographical details that did not appear in their online catalogues.
In some cases, such further information was not available and wherever possible, the original copy was then examined in person in the United Kingdom.
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A total of 113 copies of the 1555 were found in University and Institutional Libraries.