Archive reference number
The Stock Books contain the details of each artwork bought and sold as stock (by commission or otherwise) from 1853-1988. This series is split into five sub-series, Picture Stock Books (NGA27/1/1), Drawing Stock Books (NGA27/1/2), Print and Engraving Stock Books (NGA27/1/3), Mixed Stock Books (NGA27/1/4) and Show Room Books (NGA27/1/5). For information about indexes to these volumes, refer to the description at NGA27/31.
Each entry within a stock book will usually record the following information in set columns:
Stock number / Date / Artist / Subject / From whom purchased (Ipse = purchased from the artist) / Amount purchased for / Sale estimate or Branch / To whom sold / Date of sale / Amount sold for / Initials of seller, Branch, or further references
Upon purchase, each artwork was chronologically assigned a stock number between 1 and 10,000. Once stock number 10,000 was reached the cycle begins again from 1, hence more than one artwork can have the same stock number. The exceptions to this rule are the Print and Engraving Stock Books. In those volumes stock numbers have 3-4 digits and are assigned a letter prefix according to the classification of the print or engraving. The rules governing the classifications were altered a number of times over the history of the firm; for more detailed information re print and engraving stock please refer to the description at NGA27/1/3. At the beginning of each new stock book, all stock from preceding volumes which remained unsold can be found duplicated at the beginning of the new volume. Any exceptions are noted in the descriptions of individual volumes.
The column 'Amount purchased for' is often written in code. Before circa 1914 this was C U M O L A T I V E, with each letter associated with the numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0. From Jan 1910 (at least in the Picture Stocks Books) these letters were replaced with M A C K I N T Y R E. These codes can be found in a number of other volumes within the Agnew's archive.
- J = Artwork was purchased jointly with partner(s)
- P = Photo taken
- B = Brochure
- The following information may be recorded: initials of salesman or branch name, dimensions, invoice references, VAT, photo numbers, %, and price margins
- Capital letters (e.g. R, F, G, W, H) may be written in the 'From whom purchased column'; these refer to work carried out on stock (e.g. frames, repairs, or the initial of the restorer responsible for the work)
- Sequences of numbers 0-9 (in pencil or red pen) are a stock taking exercise undertaken by the firm to keep track of artworks which had yet to be sold.
- The price given in the stock books is always recorded in pounds sterling (£)
For more general information about the Agnew's archive as a whole, refer to the description at NGA27.