Worcester College

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Searching the Database

Here are few pointers for how to get good results from each of the types of search possible.

Searching by Name (designer or engraver)

This is one of the most straightforward searches. The search will only find surnames that match the search term entered into the form. Do not try to search on whole names or firstnames as this will most likely return no results or the wrong results. For longer more complex names, it is best to try entering only the very last individual word. So, for Antony Van Dyck enter only Dyck or for Louis I de Boullogne enter just Boullogne. However, there are exceptions to this rule e.g. Androuet du Cerceau, so you may have to try entering a name in a variety of ways to find what you want. Be aware that prints by all designers or engravers of the same name will be retrieved e.g. prints by John Faber the Elder and John Faber the Younger, or Antoine, Jean and Pierre Le Pautre.

Any given print may not have a designer or engraver associated with it or it may have just one or it may have several of each. The database matches your search term to the first characters of the names in the database so an exact match is not always needed. You may find this useful if you do not know the precise spelling of a name. Entering jo will find prints by Jones, Jouvenet and Jonson.

Subject of the Print

This keyword search matches the keywords entered against a section of descriptive text that has been written for each print. The text has been entered using a consistent terminology but there may be a number of synonyms present for some terms. For further guidance about the type of search terms present in the database take a look at our more detailed Keyword Searching page. This contains more detail about how to carry out searches in the following areas: allegory, architecture and ornament, gardens, history, incidents, customs and details, literary subjects, military subjects, portraits, religion, topography and other themes.

Words entered can be combined using AND or OR. Choosing AND will retrieve only those records containing all of the search terms entered, whereas choosing OR will normally retrieve a much larger set of records each containing one or more of the keywords. You may also find it useful to take advantage of the fact that the search software matches your search term to the start of the words in the database, so the keyword need not always match the word in the database exactly to retrieve it. To give an example, a keyword search on church will retrieve about 800 records including both the word church and also churches. But a search on churches will not retrieve those containing the word church so only about 50 records will be retrieved.

Below the keyword search is a separate form to search the text present on the print. This is useful for finding names which are not otherwise indexed - notably those of dedicatees and collectors. Bear in mind that much of the text is in French or Latin with archaic spellings.

Searching by Date

This search is intended to retrieve prints published in a particular year or within a specified year range. Where prints in the collection are later reissues, the date of reissue has normally been given rather than the date of original publication. The year of publication is not known for each print in the database and a search can only retrieve those records that have a known or estimated year of publication. Further guidance concerning the year of publication is given in the Evidence of Publication field on the full record of each print. The key for this field is as follows: 0 = accurate dating, 1 = a well-founded estimate, 3 = a less well-founded guess.

Publication Details

This option allows you to retrieve prints published by a particular individual and also to look for prints published at a particular location. Before commencing a search make sure that you have chosen the correct option for the type of search you wish to carry out.

To search for publishers, enter only a surname into the search box. Note that 'Smith' will list prints published by Joseph as well as John Smith and 'Rossi' will list prints published by all members of the de Rossi family. To search by place of publication, remember that the database is catalogued by city rather than country so you will need to carry out separate searches for Rome, Venice, Bologna etc. The bulk of the collection was published in Rome, Paris and London. The search software will retrieve records that contain your search term anywhere in the place of publication description so a search on London will also retrieve the records classified as Oxford and/or London.As with the other searches, the place of publication is not known for every record in the database.

Combined search of date and place

Please follow guidelines above for Searching by Date and Publication Details.


Use the drop-down list to choose a particular technique. This will retrieve all of the prints created using that technique. Most of the techniques each represent less than 100 prints in the database, with the majority covered by three techniques. Engraving and Engraving with Etching both cover around 1500 prints, with Etching covering over 4000. Choosing either of these three options will generate a large results list which may take some time to download.

Go directly to a record

This is useful for those who are familiar with the collection or who have used the web site before.

If you know exactly which print you want to see the details of and can remember its ID number then you can enter the number to go straight to that record. You may find it useful to keep a note of the ID numbers of prints of particular interest to you as you search through the database in case you are unable to recreate the search you found it through at a later date.

Using the location number you can also search for prints in a particular album or volume, or scroll through the contents of the same. If you have found a print of particular interest in an earlier search, you can enter the first part of the location number, for example VII: to retrieve a list of all the prints in the same album. It is important to enter the colon after the initial number to limit your search properly. Entering V will retrieve any location that starts with V, so also those in albums VI and VII. If you are entering the full location number, it must be entered with a space after the colon: e.g. VII: 001, IX: 015, XI: 111. As well as album numbers, there are folder numbers (for folders of loose prints) in the following form: folder 1: 001, folder 5: 015, folder 7: 111. A small number of prints are described as 'framed' or 'roll'.

The web site also contains a descriptive listing of the contents of each album which you may find useful.


1999 Worcester College
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EmailHCDT at Oxford University, 2000