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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.Location of the second edition Vesalius in private collections was more difficult to objectively determine and accounts for approximately 10% of the second Edition books in the census.] In 1994, Elly Cockx-Indestege published the results of her research into every copy of every pre-1800 edition of all Vesalius' works held in Belgian collections, including five copies of the 1555 edition [-century researcher is the development of the internet.The number of university and institutional libraries which are searchable online means that the libraries of over 200 institutions could be searched in a matter of several months.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.Many libraries were not yet online, or are in the process of being made available online.Twenty one of the copies sold at auction were subsequently bought by dealers of which nineteen (90%) were UK dealers.
It also offers a groundbreaking historical analysis of how the Fabrica traveled across the globe, and how readers studied, annotated and critiqued its contents from 1543 to 2017.
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.
The Book Auction Records for the past 100 years have been searched, and it has sometimes been possible to trace the movement of a single copy from sale to sale.
Catalogues for individual sales have also been looked at, though even those containing the auctioneer's own notations usually give not further clue to the provenance, seller or buyer of the copy in question.