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John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera for Art Historians: Home

How to maximise use of the John Johnson Collection to find information about artists and art

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students/researchers studying the History of Art at the University of Oxford, although students/researchers from any field may find it useful.

Use this guide to find out how to find images in the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera as well as ephemera relating to artists, e.g. invitations to private views.


Trade card showing Adam Buck's prices for portraits

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


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:


Key web sites

John Johnson Collection website:

The John Johnson Collection: an archive of printed ephemera (ProQuest): (Oxford users) 

This resource is free of charge within the UK, but available by institutional subscription only elsewhere.

Librarian of the John Johnson Collection


John Johnson Collection
Bodleian Libraries
Broad Street