History of the Printed Book

Daniel Berkeley Updike History of Printing Collection

Providence Public Library’s collection of books on printing was begun in 1910 with the purchase of over a thousand duplicate books from the St. Bride Library in London. The purchase was made at the suggestion of Mr. Daniel Berkeley Updike of Boston, and he contributed generously to the fund drive that enabled the library to make the purchase. Mr. Updike, who died in 1941, was the proprietor of the Merrymount Press and the author of a classic work on “Printing Types,” first published in 1922. A revised edition was published in 1937. He bequeathed his fine personal collection of books on printing to the Library, and later several other gifts and purchases strengthened the collection.

BeeHiveLogoToday the collection contains about 7,500 volumes, 600 letters and other manuscripts, about 200 prints (mostly portraits of printers, typefounders, booksellers and publishers), much printed ephemera and some artifacts including three printing presses, a wooden type case, a set of punches and two sets of matrices for the Montallegro and Merrymount types which Mr. Updike commissioned for his own use.

The collection is particularly strong in early type specimen books. They date from the 16th century, and about 400 of them were printed before the 20th century. The collection is also strong in Mr. Updike’s own Merrymount Press, in books designed by Bruce Rogers, and in books printed by Bodoni and by the Peter Pauper Press. The Peter Pauper Press collection and many of the books designed by Bruce Rogers were given to the Library by Edith Wetmore of Newport. Miss Wetmore also gave the Library a collection of illustrated books that included some beautiful private press books and livres d’artistes.

Description and guide to the Updike Ephemera Collection

Related Link

Tiny Showcase - "Tramps! A Miscellany of Printers Portraits" by Dan Wood and Katherine Cummings