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The Broxbourne collection consists of about 650 books of type specimens and books of typographical interest from the 15th to the 20th century. The collection was presented by John Ehrman in 1978, whose father Albert Ehrman (1890-1969) had been the original collector. Type specimen books were printed by type founders to send to printers who set type, or to display their wares to publishers. Their functional, ephemeral nature has made their survival unusual. Those who collected this type of material tended to come from the printing trade, and have an interest in the evolution of typeface.

The collection includes a collection of French eighteenth-century specimens, about thirty early English specimens, a Vatican specimen of 1628, and an example of the Janson face, which was cut about 1690. Sanskrit and other exotic typefaces are also represented. The collection included 16 incunabula (books printed before 1500), which have been added to the Library's Incunabula class. These volumes have been added to iDiscover, and a list of the books previously owned by Ehrman can be found on the provenance index page. Around 4000 further items (not type specimens) were presented by Ehrman to the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Other collections in Cambridge University Library of typographical interest include the MorisonMeynell and Dreyfus collections.

References and further reading:

  • Fern, A., "Typographical specimen books in the Broxbourne Library", The Book Collector 1956, pp. 256-272. B990.15.7