Prospectuses are printed materials (ephemera) which advertise an upcoming work or product and, often, seek financial support for that work (either in the form of subscriptions or early reservations). The product advertised could be anything from a literary work to an insurance company.

Prospectuses at the Folger

ca. 1660 X.d.454

Unsurprisingly, most of the prospectuses in the Folger collection advertise books. They may be either standalone items, or they may be bound into a larger work.

The best way to find them in Hamnet is to search "prospectuses" in the Form/Genre search in the Advanced Search tab. (This will find items described as either "Prospectuses" or "Book prospectuses" in one search.) However, please note that many prospectuses, as with other forms of ephemera, do not yet have records in Hamnet, and may be recorded only in the card catalog.

An excellent example of a prospectus in the Folger collection is Propositions concerning the map of London and Westminster by Wenceslaus Hollar (X.d.454), which outlines Hollar's plan to execute a large-scale (10 x 5 ft.) bird's-eye view map of London. This particular prospectus also contains a manuscript receipt signed, for £20, from Hollar to Sir Edward Walker, July 26, 1660. Walker undertakes to pay £3 of this sum, as outlined above. The prospectus came with a Bird's-eye plan of the west central district of London he used to sell the idea to potential backers of the project (ART 264- 511 (size L)). Unfortunately, Hollar's project never came to fruition because of the change of London's landscape during the Great Fire of 1666, as well as his old age and death in 1677.

Cataloging prospectuses

When cataloging prospectuses, generally follow Vault cataloging guidelines, with additions noted below. Make sure that the work you are cataloging is a prospectus (advertising a work not yet published), and not a publisher's or bookseller's advertisement (advertising work(s) recently published).

  • Whenever possible, determine the title that a proposed book was published under, or a title that it may be known by (prefer the title in Hamnet, if the Folger owns a copy of the book).
    • Add a 600 name-title entry or a 630 title entry for the published work
    • Also add a 700 name-title entry or a 730 title entry, mirroring the 600/630 entry. Add the relationship designator "Promotional material for (expression)" in a subfield ‡i ahead of the entry.
    • The work is both the subject of the prospectus, and also a related work, so multiple entries may seem excessive but are appropriate. Ideally, this should also allow users to search for the title of a work, and find both the work and its prospectus in Hamnet, if the Folger owns both.
  • Add brief subject headings as appropriate. Prospectuses for sets of Shakespeare should include a name-title heading for "Works." Prospectuses for individual Shakespeare plays should include their appropriate name-title heading.
  • Add genre terms in the 655 field. Any book prospectuses should include both "Prospectuses" and "Book prospectuses." (Any non-book prospectuses should use only the former, of course.)
    • If a subscription form or order form is present, include a genre term for "Blank forms."
    • While prospectuses often include specimen pages, there is no distinct genre term for these, as specimen pages are a not-uncommon component of a prospectus. Do indicate their presence in a note, however.

If the item you are cataloging turns out not to be a prospectus, but rather advertising material for an already-published work, catalog it according to standard rules for cataloging Vault material, and use the genre term "Publishers' advertisements" instead of "Prospectuses."

Example ("Proposd edition of Shakspere in old spelling"):

 600 10 Shakespeare, William, ‡d 1564-1616 ‡x Language ‡x Orthography and spelling. 
 600 10 Furnivall, Frederick James, ‡d 1825-1910. ‡t Old-spelling Shakespeare. 
 655  7 Prospectuses ‡2 aat 
 655  7 Book prospectuses ‡2 rbgenr 
 700 1  ‡i Promotional material for (expression): ‡a Furnivall, Frederick James, ‡d 1825-1910. ‡t Old-spelling Shakespeare. 
 700 1  ‡i Promotional material for (expression): ‡a Shakespeare, William, ‡d 1564-1616. ‡t Works 

Genre terms for prospectuses

Prospectuses ‡2 aat
Book prospectuses ‡2 rbgenr
Dummies (Publishing/Printing) ‡2 rbpub/rbpri
Blank forms. ‡2 aat
Publishers' advertisements. ‡2 aat