The contents of each edition/impression are described in the eponymous field, providing information about the number of leaves, the physical make-up of all the copies classed under the given code, and the printing method used to produce them. Where the printed pagination begins with ‘1’, any preceding pages without numbering are designated by lower-case roman numerals in square brackets (e.g. 2–1-W); conversely, where the existing pagination starts with a number other than ‘1’, bracketed arabic numerals up to the first printed page number are assigned to the unnumbered pages before it, with lower-case roman numerals again in square brackets being used for any previous pages as relevant (e.g. 12–1-Sm). Unnumbered pages at the end are given arabic numerals in square brackets, following on from the last printed page number.
Certain elements in the albums that contain works by Chopin – including wrappers/covers, flyleaves, decorative lithography, facsimiles, dedication pages and sheets of tissue paper – are described either in the ‘Contents’ field (e.g. 23–2-B&H, 45–1-Sm) or under ‘Copies’ (e.g. 32/2–1-Sam, MEG–1-CH), depending on the degree to which the commonly classified copies share the relevant features. The original contents of these volumes are often so difficult to reconstruct that an exceptional approach to pagination is warranted. First of all, we have assigned to these components a consecutive pagination separate from the page sequence pertaining to the music text. Thus the pagination of the flyleaf or flyleaves and facsimiles located at the end of some albums has no relation to either the continuous page sequence throughout the music text (e.g. 45–1-Sm, 50/1–2-Sm) or the numbering of the last piece when individual pagination has been used (e.g. 15–1a-Sm, 32/1–1-Sam, 32/1–1a-Sam (D-Bds copy), 32/2–1a-Sam (A-Wn and PL-WRu copies, second D-Bds copy), 45–1-ME). Notated in small roman numerals in square brackets, the separate pagination of final flyleaves carries on from the unnumbered elements located at the beginning of the volume. For similar reasons we separately describe the contents of covers as required (e.g. MFM–1-E, MEG–1-CH). In other cases (e.g. MFM–1a-E) a unique mode of description has been employed to reflect idiosyncratic aspects of a volume’s composition. It is in fact impossible to define immutable principles for publications as varied and complex as the albums included in this catalogue; our paramount concern in describing them has been conciseness and transparency, which sometimes necessitates the modicum of flexibility alluded to here.