Type research museum or archive

ChuckGroth's picture

Anyone know about any physical (not web) places in the US where someone could do typographic research? I'm not referring to classes, but rather archives and like places where someone could see, hold, and research actual type examples.

Washington University in St. Louis has a great facility for this, but I was wondering if anyone here knew about other places.

Thanks in advance.


oldnick's picture

The Maurice Annenberg Collection of Type Specimen Catalogs at the University of Maryland, College Park, is a treasure trove of information and has the added advantage of being close to the Library of Congress, which is also an estimable research resource.

blank's picture

They don’t stock physical type, but if you want to get your hands on the great old books the Library of Congress has no equal. You can come in off the street, fill out a few forms, get a library card, and then have the rare books librarian set you down at a desk with a dozen Jenson editions.

ChuckGroth's picture

Terrific. Thanks! Can you 'walk-in' at the U of Maryland like you can at the Library of Congress?

oldnick's picture

Can you 'walk-in' at the U of Maryland like you can at the Library of Congress?

Except on Saturdays (when you can schedule appointments), yes:


eliason's picture

I had the great fortune in the spring of researching specimen books at the Houghton Library at Harvard and the Harry Ransom Center at U. Texas-Austin. Spent a month solid in each place and didn't get through all their materials. Both are open to any adult researchers. The Newberry Library in Chicago, I have heard, also has an outstanding collection and is likewise open.

I didn't get to the Museum of Printing while in Massachusetts, but I sense they may have more of the archival objects you're talking about.

MaximT's picture

What would be similar collections in Europe?

blank's picture

What would be similar collections in Europe?

The Plantin-Moretus Museum, The St. Bride Museum/Librarie, The Imprimerie Nationale, and the Museo Bodoni are the big ones.

jasonc's picture

You might want to try the Museum of Printing in North Andover, Massachusetts.

William Berkson's picture

The Museum of Printing has a lot of old presses and other machines, but for type itself their big treasure is the library of 300,000 drawings of type from the Mergenthaler Linotype company. This isn't handling the type, but for the pantographic punch cut era 1885-1970 roughly it's the drawings that tell most of the story.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

What would be similar collections in Europe?

Among the major houses in Europe one certainly has to count:
in Germany:
– Gutenberg-Museum Mainz
– Klingspor-Museum Offenbach
– Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum Leipzig
– Museum für Druckkunst Leipzig

In the Netherlands, I think, at least Enschedé in Haarlem has a notable archive, there might be more eminent places though.

MaximT's picture

James, Andreas,
Thanks, that is fantastic.

I will make a point not to miss St Bride next time I'm nearby.

ChuckGroth's picture

I appreciate all your suggestions! Thanks!

eliason's picture

I forgot to add, if you do get to the Ransom Center in Austin, the Rob Roy Kelly collection of wood type is housed in UT's Design department and is worth a try to access.

dezcom's picture

In Washington DC:

Library of Congress,
National Archives (Gutenberg Bible, etc)
Bureau of Printing and Engraving
Folger Shakespearian Library http://www.folger.edu/imgcolldtl.cfm?imageid=577

New York Public Library, Manhattan
Hunt Library, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh

Reed Reibstein's picture

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Yale's library in New Haven, Conn. The Arts of the Book collection has a bunch of physical typographic objects, I believe.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Also, the Cary Collection at RIT (Rochester, NY) is pretty fabulous. For a number of type designers they have unique collections of drawings or other resources not found anywhere else.


MaximT's picture

is there actually a copy of Gutenberg Bible at The National Archives?
I couldn't find any reference as where to how to get access and wiki also doesn't list them as owners. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutenberg_Bible#Surviving_copies

dezcom's picture


Actually, I misstyped. The Gutenberg is in the Library of Congress, 12 blocks away from the Archives.

Also, here are a few of the other collections at LOC. You could spend your life there!

Incunabula Collection: Books printed between 1455 and 1501, (3,797 titles).
Hans P. and Hanni Kraus Collection: Early books, manuscripts, maps, and memorabilia related to the explorations of Sir Francis Drake.: http://www.loc.gov/rr/rarebook/coll/kraus.html
William Morris and Kelmscott Press Collection: Imprints from the Kelmscott Press printed by William Morris, (170 titles).
Bruce Rogers Collection: Books designed by Bruce Rogers and his personal papers
Russian Imperial Collection: Books from the libraries of the Russian imperial family
Yudin Collection: Publications relating to Russian history, bibliography, and literature, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; pictorial material; papers of the Russian American Company
John Boyd Thacher Collection: Incunabula, early Americana, material pertaining to the French Revolution, autographs
Theater Playbills Collection: Nineteenth-century English-language playbills, (3,253 items).
Shakespeare Folio Collection: Shakespeare's First, Second, Third, and Fourth Folios, (6 titles).
Accademia Della Crusca Collection: Italian-language publications representing the best usage of Italian in the humanities and sciences
American and Foreign Magazines Collection: American and European magazines from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century, (3,872 titles).
American Imprints, 1640-1800: Books and pamphlets printed in the United States between 1640 and 1800, (16,990 titles).
Archive of French Publishing Prospectuses Collection: Nineteenth-century prospectuses from European publishing firms (chiefly from France and Belgium, 1830-1870), (1,000 items).
Bookplate Collection: Bookplates designed by twentieth-century Russian artists, (130 bookplates).
Broadside Collection: Mostly single-sheet publications from Europe and the Americas (with the vast majority from the United States) dating from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries.

gthompson's picture

The Newberry Library in Chicago has a world class collection on printing and typography. Ask for Paul Gehl, he will be happy to show you what they have. This includes the largest collection of Bodoni material outside of Parma, Italy and one-of-a-kind things like Bruce Rogers drawings fro the Centaur face. They only lack a Gutenberg bible but there is one close by at Indiana University in Bloomington.

It is private, just tell them you're there for typographic research and get a user card.


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