DCRB (Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Books) gives explicit instruction for this situation. Rule 4D4 calls for the recording of a copyright date when a publishing or printing date is unknown. A footnote restricts use of copyright data, however, to countries after the enactment of modern uniform copyright legislation, in the U.S. after 1870. A date of copyright that precedes such enactment may be recorded in the note area if desired.
Institutions using DCRB for 19c materials generally handle these "entered according to Act of Congress" statements in this way. If there is no publication or printing date, and there is no reason to believe the copyright statement isn't an accurate reflection of the date of publication, the date is supplied in square brackets in the 260$c. The copyright statement is then either summarized or transcribed in a note. If summarized, it is still a good idea to indicate the jurisdiction in which the copyright was entered; in the case below, in the District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Deborah J. Leslie, M.A., M.L.S.
Head of Cataloging
Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol St., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
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From: Kenneth Javonovich [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 03 October 2003 10:28
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Date of publication
Although this is not strictly a NACO question, I am hoping that one of
you on the list can provide some insight. One of my co-workers has
approached me with a music libretto whose verso contains the statement,
"Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860 ... in the
Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of
Massachusetts." The question is, does this constitute a copyright
statement? Can it be given in the 260 field as a copyright date? We
looked in the LCRI for 1.4F and didn't come up with anything.