The Silver Buckle Press Collection

URLs to browse or search the collections

Silver Buckle Press is a working museum of letterpress printing dedicated to preserving the craft of fine printing through educational programming, publications, exhibitions and tours. The Silver Buckle Press holdings of books, wood and metal type, hand presses, and printing equipment are part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Libraries. In 2016 Silver Buckle Press moved to Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers Wisconsin under a long-term loan agreement with the museum.

Books in the Silver Buckle Press Collection database represent printing history materials from their reference shelf. This core sample was chosen to make hard-to-find items available to students and researchers. The database consists primarily of type specimen books. Type specimens were issued by type and printing equipment manufacturers as sales catalogs. Another category of type specimen books in this collection were in-house specimens made by commercial printers to show prospective customers what types the business had available for job printing.

Type specimen books are becoming increasingly scarce. Though many of them were lavishly produced and substantial in size, type specimens were essentially sales catalogs and therefore ephemeral. Many simply did not survive intact—either because of heavy use, or because the books were discarded when new issues appeared. Additionally, few libraries collected or retained these now highly valued printing history items. Many of these books are in the category of library materials said to be “medium rare,” that is, they were once readily available but are now becoming difficult to locate. These materials are essential for research in type, design and printing history. We are pleased to make them more readily available for students and researchers. We will continue to add to this collection.