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Why are sale catalogues important for research?

Many of these items have come to the Library among the papers of solicitors and auctioneers. Sale catalogues are ephemeral by nature and would often be discarded after the auction. The Library is fortunate to have acquired such a diverse collection of these publications.

Sale catalogues are of great historical value as they provide detailed descriptions and plans of properties and how they were divided up into lots for sale. They are still a relevant source of boundary information today; though, as with all maps, users should treat any boundary information they provide with caution.

Much of the material deals with the sale of individual farms and smallholdings; however, there are also catalogues for the sale of large estates. The collection provides a valuable source of information for those studying the dissolution of the great landed estates in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Some of the catalogues not only detail property boundaries, but also the buildings themselves, providing important architectural information. In addition some catalogues even detail the furnishings of houses or farm implements and machinery that were also for sale. Again this makes them valuable documents for those studying social history.

The sale catalogue collection

The collection contains over 4000 catalogues, mainly stored by (historic) county. Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan are the counties most represented with over 500 catalogues each.

The sale catalogues are on the Library’s Catalogue, individual properties and estates have been indexed and the accompanying maps have been individually catalogued.