Decorative Knot Subject Classification

The following classification is based on that invented by James Duff Brown in the 1890s and in the early years of the 20th Century used quite extensively in British Libraries. The Manx Museum Library is possibly the last user of such a scheme - all other major libraries having moved, many years ago, either to the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) or the similar Universal Decimal Classification. Thus in yet another field the Island preserves a bit of Victorian heritage!

I have kept with it, as it is forms the basis of W. Cubbon's magisterial Bibliography of Works relating to the Isle of Man and also of the subject classification of the Manx Museum Library. It is however a profoundly unsatisfactory base on which to construct a classification, having no coherent philosophy or indexing scheme beyond the top level classes outlined below:

A - Natural Science
B - Useful Arts
C - Fine Arts and Recreative Arts
D - Social Science
E - Philosophy and Religion
F - History and Geography
G - Biography
H - Manx Language and Literature
J  - Poetry and Drama
K - Prose fiction
L - Periodicals and Journalism

note the following classes were never completed or used in the Bibliography

M - Manuscripts
N - Prints , Photographs and Sketches
O - Maps and Plans

The Brown Scheme

For more details re the history see any of the editions of Berwick Sayers Manual of Classification London:Andre Deutsch (1st ed. 1926) 3rd edition 1955 and reprinted many times since. The scheme adopted by W.Cubbon was based on Brown's later 1897 scheme based on some experience of the inadequacies of his first 1894 system. A quite different and much better scheme appeared in 1906, with subsequent additions but little real change until 1940, which is that generally referred to as the Brown subject classification.

The 1897 scheme was an Adjustable Classification - subjects were indexed under the main letter heading by an index number - however since all possible future subjects were unknown these index numbers would be separated by gaps to leave room for new subjects. As one would imagine a century of 'progress' has left some gaps unused but many other regions of index numbers became too crowded. Subsequent attempts to expand (or further subdivide) these index numbers have been ad hoc.


Although I have followed the Manx Museum scheme (from whom I am grateful for a printout of indexed subjects which, together with those in the Bibliography, I have used to construct these pages) it must be emphasised that all comments, links etc. are my own and have no connection whatsoever with the Museum

 Manx Note Book 


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© F.Coakley , 2001