An understanding of printing practices and design issues from the past can inform and enrich our designing today. The lettering, printing and design collections in the Department are extensive and diverse and form a unique resource for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and research. Whenever possible we use the collections to give students an opportunity to see and handle original material but they are also an important resource for individual study and have provided many topics for dissertations.
Lettering of almost every period, scale, style and material is represented in the collections: from Egyptian hieroglyphs to the latest digital technology; printed, drawn, cut, moulded, woven and sown, painted and hand-written letterforms. There is a photographic library of classical and renaissance inscriptions from Rome and Florence; street and shop lettering, tombstones from Britain and Europe and much more.
Non-Latin Type Collection
The Non-Latin Type Collection in the Department of Typography comprises a range of material acquired over several years on the general theme of typeface design for world scripts. The Collection includes a unique set of drawings for typefaces in Arabic, Indian, Thai, and other scripts, documentation that supported the original development of these typefaces, and a wide range of examples of printing. Newspapers and ephemera form the main part of the examples, together with some books, typeface specimens, and related documents.
The Non-Latin Type Collection is a key resource in the Department, both for research and teaching. It is closely aligned with our research focus on design for reading, and specifically the design of typographic resources for world scripts. The part of the Collection comprising type drawings is unique: there is only one comparable collection worldwide (in Andover, Massachusetts) but its focus is largely on the Latin script. With regard to world scripts, the Department's Collections are unique on a worldwide scale.
It follows that the Collection is a major resource for typeface design at an international level, contributing to the Department's world standing as a centre of excellence in typeface design. In addition, the Collection supports research by staff, as well as PhD and MA students, and (at an introductory level) BA students.
The Non-Latin Type Collection is also used extensively for teaching within the MA programmes we offer: very intensely in the MA Typeface Design, but also within the MA Book Design and Information Design, where conventions of document design across the world are discussed.
Fiona Ross is Curator of the Non-Latin Type Collection. Email: email@example.com
The three principle printing processes of relief, intaglio and planographic printing are explained and demonstrated through a comprehensive range of historical presses, tools and equipment. Printing surfaces such as wood- and copper-engraving blocks and plates, lithographic stones, and type and typecasting are well represented and we have extensive examples of printing artefacts that can be studied under the magnifying lens.
There is a functioning printing workshop providing 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. The Department also houses one of the most comprehensive collections of type-specimens in the country.
Archives from major individual designers and design companies are an important part of the collections and we have material relating to Hans Schmoller, Ernest Hoch, George Mackie, Banks and Miles and many others. An internationally significant archive is the Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection holding material relating to the Isotype movement (c. 1925–70) which, in addition to pioneering methods for assembling, configuring, and disseminating information through pictorial means, pursued numerous other innovative activities associated with visual communication.
Centre for Ephemera Studies
The Centre for Ephemera Studies is part of the Department. The Centre specialises in the study of everyday printed objects – the sort of material which usually gets thrown away but was such a major part of the printing trade and reflects so well everyday life in the past. The collection consists of over 20,000 item of printing.
Special Collections (http://www.reading.ac.uk/special-collections/ also has internationally important collections and archives relating to typography – for example the archives of many of the country's leading publishers, advertising and packaging of Huntley & Palmers, illustrated children's books and material from the Great Exhibition.