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Art and Architecture: Printed Ephemera for Art Historians: The John Johnson Collection

The Sackler Library is the premier research library for the study of art and architecture at the University of Oxford. It incorporates the libraries formerly housed at the History of Art Department and the Ashmolean Museum.


(C) John Johnson Collection: Trade Cards 1 (75)


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The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera is a treasure trove for those interested in the history of British art. especially commercial art, from the 18th century to 1939..

You can find

  • Ephemera relating to fine art: handbills and catalogues for exhibitions, artists' invitations, prospectuses of prints
  • Prints: popular prints, political cartoons, trades and professions prints
  • Socio-historical background to give context to artistic and aesthetic movements
  • Above all, a wealth of commercial art

A lot of this material is online. The aim of this guide is to introduce the many finding aids to the Collection and to explain how to use them most efficiently to locate:

  •  works by and information about artists, engravers and lithographers
  • online images (with iconographic indexing)

This guide is not a substitute for the John Johnson Collection website, where you will find all general information and user updates.

There are a lot of words in this guide, but it might be best to start by experimenting with our online resources so that you get a sense of the wealth of imagery available.  Why not:

  • Run ProQuest's Quick Search and Document Images demo.  Try some quick searches of your own.  Clown,for example or Cupid. Try the same in the main Search screen, typing the search into the Subject of Illustration box and using 'select from a list'.
  • Browse the JJ Coll images in VADS




key web sites

John Johnson Collection website:

The John Johnson Collection: an archive of printed ephemera (ProQuest): (must be logged into an HE or FE network or subscribing school or public library)