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Collections and archives – University of Reading

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  • Unrivalled collections and archives of international importance

  • Unrivalled collections and archives of international importance

Collections and archives

Lettering, printing and graphic design collections

Since the 1970s, Typography at Reading has built up unrivalled collections and archives relating to lettering, printing and graphic design. These are now regarded as being of international importance. Read our blog to find out how we use collections in teaching and research.

Lettering and type

Lettering of almost every period, scale, style and material is represented in the Typography collections, from Egyptian hieroglyphs to the latest digital technology. We have examples of letters that are printed, drawn, cut, moulded, woven and sewn, painted and hand-written. Our photographic library comprises classical and renaissance inscriptions from Rome and Florence; street and shop lettering, tombstones from Britain and Europe and much more. We also house one of the most comprehensive collections of type-specimens in the country, as well as material relating to type design for many of world scripts.


The three principle processes of relief, intaglio and planographic printing are explained and demonstrated through a comprehensive range of historical presses, tools and equipment. We have many examples of wood- and copper-engraving blocks and plates, lithographic stones, and wooden type. Our printing workshop provides an opportunity for students to try out these printing processes for themselves using historical equipment. We have material covering the many typesetting technologies, including a working Monotype machine.


Archives from major individual designers and design companies are an important part of the collection. We have material relating to Hans Schmoller, Ernest Hoch, George Mackie, Banks and Miles and many others.

Collections of particular note are:

Our Students also benefit from other University archives and collections located outside the Department, including the Publisher's archive; Great Exhibition; Printing Collection; the John Lewis collection of ephemera. They are accessed through the Special Collections.

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