BSIP ICONOGRAPHY Cataloguing Policy

This policy is used in the cataloguing of all iconographic sources.


The BSIP Iconography database accepts depictions of bowed string instruments, bows, and parts and accessories for instruments and bows. Visual jokes referencing bowed instruments whether or not they are actually depicted or simply alluded to are accepted. Wheel-based instruments such as the hurdy-gurdy, symphony, organistrum etc. are not subject matter for the database and are not accepted.

Primary sources

  • All original art dated 800 CE to the present regardless of medium;
  • Archaeological finds of an iconographic nature dated 800 CE to present;
  • Photographs prior to 1950 CE;
  • Photographs post 1950 that have historic value and significance. This includes pictures of folk/traditional practices, and prominent musicians, trade catalogues that have value in providing historical record. Stock photography is explicitly excluded from the database.

Secondary sources (such as material published in books)

  • For photographic reproductions, only included if a good image of the original is not available, or where the image adds to the quality of the information presented. This is particularly useful for works that have not yet been obtained, lost and destroyed works).
  • Illustrations will be included in their own right, as they are a derivative work, and marked as copies after the original with relationships between the sources added.

Printed Sources

Printed materials can cause problems, as printing is a reproduction system. In general, all prints from the same plates will be catalogued together as a single source. What is most critical is when the plate was made, rather than when the print was made. If the print date differs it will be noted in the image notes.

Plate state change (re-working of plates) alters the depictions. As the resultant picture is different from the original it will be catalogued as a separate source and relationships between the sources will be added.

Hand-colouring of printed material results in an element of uniqueness in the artwork, and the people involved may differ. Hand-coloured prints are therefore catalogued as separate sources, and relationships between the sources will be added.

Sensitive Material: Sexually Explicit/Erotica

The BSIP Iconography database does include a few works which fall under this category. These works are all published by major national museums and are already freely available to view on the Internet without any barriers. We have therefore followed the publishing policy of these national museums. Fortunately the nature of the works, and the general exclusion of post-1950 photographs except where they have historic value avoids most of these issues.

Sensitive Material: Sexism, Race, Slavery, Exploitation and Discriminatory Issues

BSIP supports ending of racism, sexism and other discriminatory practices.

The BSIP Iconography database covers a wide range of subjects. There are images both for and against slavery, that show slaves, immigrants and indigenous peoples. Some images include caricatures and/or wording that is offensive and discriminatory.

The light in which these portrayals have been made represents the views of the artists and are of their time.  As such it tends to be a mirror on societies and social attitudes, and at times can reflect the brutal, no longer acceptable side of history. 

These images do NOT represent the views of BSIP. The BSIP Iconography database is not an edited history, but a reference database of source materials. We do not wish to offend anyone, and intend only to provide access to the historical record.

Barry Pearce
(Initial page Sep. 2020, Last updated Sep.2022)