Book Design

This collection of some 13,000 books embraces the book as an artefact, with books being purchased for their design in addition to their content. The main emphasis is on finely printed and illustrated books.

History of the Collection
The Book Design collection was formed in 1972 from a core of books inherited from the Manchester College of Art Library, founded in 1845. This collection consisted mainly of illustrated books with some fine examples of craft binding and typography.

Scope and Content
The collection represents the design history of  British book production from the  mid 18th century to the present day. A strength of the collection is the work of British wood engravers, especially those working in the 1920s and 1930s such as Eric Gill, John Farleigh, Agnes Miller Parker, Gwen Raverat and Claire Leighton. A small number of original livres d’artiste (handmade books with original prints and craft bindings, handset typography etc) are complemented by good facsimiles, obtained when the original is unobtainable or too expensive. These include Picasso’s etchings of Ovid’s Metamorphosis, and Matisse’s Jazz and Poésies. British private presses can be studied alongside commercial publishing from the late nineteenth century to the present date. Strong subject areas within the collection include architecture, garden design and nineteenth and twentieth century bibliography.

Research Potential
Book Design contains books which could be useful in the research and study of:

– the development of all aspects of book design and illustration in the UK since the early 19th century, including typography, binding and cover design, illustrative practices, page layout, and printing technologies e.g. wood-engraving and lithography

– the development of practices within the printing and publishing industries in the UK during this period, including industrialisation, technological developments, the history of private presses (especially in conjunction with the archives of the Fleece and Bracket Presses) and the modern commercial presses

– individual illustrators such as Barnett Freedman, Paul Hogarth, Leslie Wood, John Farleigh, John Lawrence, Doreen Roberts, John O’Connor, Rigby Graham and Robin Jacques all of whom have archival material held at MMU Special Collections

More broadly, the collection might inform the study of both commercial nineteenth century engraving practice and its revival as an artistic practice (in conjunction with the archive of the Society of Wood Engravers held at MMU Special Collections).

The Book Design collection is held in our Reading Room on open access shelving. No appointment is necessary to view this collection. Books may be taken from the shelves and viewed at the tables. Readers may be asked to wear non-allergenic gloves when viewing some of the books in this collection.

Photography is only permitted for the purposes of research or private study. All items within the Book Design collection  remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder’s permission for reproduction of copyright for purposes other than research or private study.

Finding Aids
The collection can be searched on the MMU Library catalogue by entering ‘bhbd’ in the search box.

Rogerson, I. (1992) Noel Carrington and his Puffin Picture Books, Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University Library.
Rogerson, I. (1993) Claude Lovat Fraser 4th ed., Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University Library.
Rogerson, I. (1993) Thomas Bewick 6th ed., Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University Library.
Rogerson, I. (1996) Simon Lawrence and the Fleece Press 1980-1995, Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University Library.


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