Case numbers

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Case numbers

Mr. and Mrs. Folger stored most of the material acquired for their future library in warehouses and safes in New York. Accordingly, individual items are associated with a "case number" indicating which packing crate they were in. The highest case number is 2067, but the schema was continued by early Folger staff and so quasi-case numbers extend to the 2200s. Folger catalogers record the case number as "cs" followed immediately by the number (no space) as if it were an accession number, but it is important to know that these are not unique identifiers. Everything else in that case will have the same number.

There are three series of numbers:

  • Case numbers: serial numbers from 1 through 2067 on typed lists
  • Circle case numbers: serial numbers from 1 through 42 on typed lists, and up to 128 in boxed catalogs. Handwritten numbers have circles drawn around them, typewritten numbers have parentheses on either side.
  • "S Lock" numbers (for "Safe Lock"?), numbered 0063, 0114, 0361, 0677, and 0900 in the boxed catalogs, and including 0822 in catalog records. No list has been found yet.

Quasi-case numbers

Detail of October 12, 1933 memo by Giles Dawson to the Folger Director
Detail of October 12, 1933 memo by Giles Dawson to the Folger Director

The bibliographer Seymour de Ricci was allowed access to the Folger collection starting on November 1, 1932 (before the library officially opened) so that he could include the manuscripts acquired by the Folgers in his Census of medieval and renaissance manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Giles Dawson, the Folger’s first Reference Librarian, worked with de Ricci to identify each manuscript against the Folgers’ purchase records, producing unique identifiers from the case numbers like 1137.1, 1137.2, 1137.3, 1137.4, 1137.5 which correspond to the five manuscripts that had been kept in case 1137, and correspond to the printed de Ricci numbers. For the items that couldn’t be accurately verified against Folger purchase records, Dawson classified them as “Lost numbers” and assigned these nine manuscripts a quasi-case number 2068 (the next number after the highest of the original case numbers). Dawson then assigned the numbers 2069-2076 to items the Folgers’ stored in safes and 2077-2118 to items with circle case numbers.

Dawson continued applying quasi-case numbers to manuscript acquisitions made by the Folger Shakespeare Library beginning with 2201. There are several gaps, but the highest of these numbers extends into the 2250s.

Four-digit accession numbers

The four-digit accession numbers used by the library from October 20, 1930 through August 31, 1938, are often mistaken for case numbers (so sometimes have "cs" in front of the number in the catalog). They can be distinguished from case numbers because they run from 3001 through 7029, while case and quasi-case numbers end in the low 2000s.