Type specimen books are collections of typefaces, printing graphics, and design layout examples assembled by printing companies, graphic designers, and type foundries to demonstrate their printing capabilities. Kent State University Library has a robust collection of type specimen books, sometimes called font catalogs, dating back to the early 1800s. Multiple countries and languages are represented in the KSU holdings. The type specimen books at KSU are the products of small, family-run printers to once-dominant printing companies like Mergenthaler Linotype Company and Lanston Monotype Machine Company. The collection presented here contains a sampling of these holdings that are now considered public domain, or out of copyright. 

Initially created as a method to sell the publisher’s services and abilities, these books now offer interesting looks at the past of printing, advertising, and book publication. The books might be straightforward pages of font sizes and types, or offer additional instruction on design, layout, and bookbinding. Others may include histories of the types or their own company. There are books in the collection that focus on only one family of type while others include an abundance of type specimens. This collection includes books found in the KSU Library and digitized by KSU community members, as well as books in the KSU collection with existing digital files found on other web sources.

Browse the Type Specimen Books: A KSU Public Domain Digital Collection Collections