This collection from the Columbia University Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, is a real gem – from a time when a letterheads, invoices, cheques, handwritten notes, and other ephemera said so much about a business.
In addition, it provides a fascinating glimpse into industrial architecture with beautifully detailed drawings of so many buildings that no longer exist, and probably aren’t documented anywhere else.
There are over 1,000 images on the site, and it is easy so spend hours looking through the images, and is such a fantastic research tool, especially for those in the Graphic Design field.
The Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery was donated to the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library by Robert Biggert in honor of Lisa Ann Riveaux. This unique collection of printed ephemera contains over 1,300 items with architectural imagery spanning the dates 1850 to 1920, in more than 350 cities and towns in forty-five states, as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. possessions. New York City is particularly well-represented with over 100 items portraying structures below Houston Street alone.
The collection’s billheads, letterheads, envelopes, checks, and business cards document the rise of the United States as an industrial nation, in often elaborate vignettes of factories, warehouses, mines, offices, stores, banks, and hotels. Industries range from livestock, textiles, printing, roofing, and brewing to wagon works, cordage, and merchandising. The collection presents a unique view of the emerging American industrial scene. The material offers a wealth of possibilities for architectural historians, as well as students of commerce and graphic design. There are numerous images from the same businesses over successive decades, which show how their buildings grew over time in tandem with changes in typographic taste