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Books Arts in Special Collections

About the collection

The Special Collections Department of the University of Delaware Library houses a wealth of research material relating to the history and technology of printing, papermaking, and the book arts. The Library's extensive rare book collection ranges from early printed books from the fifteenth century to examples of fine and small press printing of the present day. Special Collections also houses extensive collections of manuscripts, ephemera, and archival materials relating to printing, papermaking, and the book arts.

Highlights from the manuscript collections

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MSS 358 Archive of the Press of A. Colish

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MSS 210 Paul A. Bennett collection

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MSS 153 Cuala Press collection

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Seed Catalogs: Supplemental List

Suggested searches

To locate materials in the print collection including books, periodicals, and some printed ephemera, search DELCAT by location in the  Advanced Search option and limit your search to “Special Collections.”

Use LC subject terms such as those below to search for material related to printing and the bookarts

    • Alphabets
    • Artists' books
    • Book design -- handbooks, manuals, etc.
    • Bookbinding
    • Bookbinding -- Specimens
    • Book ornamentation
    • Lettering
    • Marbling
    • Paper -- Sample books
    • Papermaking
    • Paste papers
    • Printed paste papers
    • Printing -- Specimens
    • Private presses
    • Toy and movable books--SpecimensType and type-founding
    • Type ornaments -- Specimens
    • Wood types (Printing)

Many copy specific details related to printing history and book-making do not receive LC subject terms and are instead recorded in the "Notes" fields in DELCAT. To search for these items, do a search of the "Keyword in notes" tab in the Advanced Search option on DELCAT. Please note that many of the notes fields have not yet been uploaded to Worldcat Local, and can only be found via DELCAT. Also, please note that many items in the collection were cataloged according to earlier standards which did not call for recording copy-specific details; please ask a librarian for further assistance if you need help finding items.

Publishers' sample copies are preliminary samples of books which publishers prepared for salesman to take to booksellers. The books often contain only preliminary texts, covers, etc. and are an interesting resource for studying books-in-progress.

  • Perform a basic "author (last name first)" search with words adjacent and type in "sample copy collection."

Select bibliographies

Listed here are bibliographies of resources in Special Collections pertaining to printing and the history of printing technology. Please note that the items listed in the bibliographies represent only a small portion of materials on printing, the book trade, and the book arts held in Special Collections.

From the collection


Journal des Peintres. Paris: Firmin Didot, ca. 1835.

Trade literature in Special Collections includes booksellers' catalogs from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries as well as companies involved in all aspects of printing and publishing.