The first University Printer, Carl P. Rollins, and Professor of English, Arthur Ellicott Case, conceived the idea of the Bibliographical Press in 1927 as a way to teach students of early literature how the books that they studied were physically created. With support from University Librarian Andrew Keogh, the Bibliographical Press has been part of Sterling Memorial Library since its opening in 1931. Intended to teach students of literature the difficult process of creating those treasured early books, the printing press as pedagogical tool has been part of Yale’s mission for over 75 years. The Bibliographical Press, in conjunction with the printing facilities in some of Yale’s residential colleges, continues the tradition that allows students to experience the craft of printing with movable metal type.
This room features an Albion hand press, built in England in 1839. This press was used as the primary teaching tool when the Bibliographical Press was founded. Also included in this installation is a composition stand that was a gift from Oxford University Press to the Yale University Library in 1932, although the stand itself is much older. A type cabinet filled with a variety of fonts, a library card catalog repurposed to hold spacing material, and two cabinets for storage of paper and printing tools complete this small-scale working press room. Other press equipment has been part of the Bibliographical Press over the years and is now housed at Yale Printing and Publishing Services as part of a partnership with the Yale University Library to teach students about printing history from its origins to current practice.