What a pleasure to discover a gem like the St Bride Library! Tucked away in corner of Fleet Street, not far from London’s Saint Paul Cathedral, you wouldn’t stumble upon it accidentally, but it’s well worth the visit for all graphic design, typography and print aficionados. Besides an amazing collection of historical artefacts (including the archive of Eric Gill, Calvert + Kinneir‘s original maquettes for the UK motorway signage, punches and matrices from Caslon and Figgins type foundries, or the recently discovered recording of an interview with Monotype’s “first lady” Beatrice Warde) and 50.000 books on printing techniques, visual style, typography, calligraphy and more, they also have over 150 subscriptions to latest design and typography periodicals and unique archive of the ones now out of print.
I had a great time browsing through the old editions of The Penrose Annual and Emigre as well as through the recent Type Directors Club Annual and Matrix Review and I’ll definitely be back for more! The reading room is open on Wednesdays from 11am to 6pm (£5 membership card is valid for a year), but if you want to see artefacts from the special collection or the impressive letterpress printing machines and other trade tools, you better make a private appointment in advance. Besides, the librarians are very helpful, knowledgable and truly enthusiastic about their domain – so talking to them is a real delight.
I hope to make plenty of photos during my private tour through the collection, but for the moment here are some pics from the reading room and of the books I looked at yesterday.