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Long Eighteenth Century in the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera: Relevant sections

A guide to accessing ephemera and prints from the Long Eighteenth Century in the John Johnson Collection, with a particular focus on historians and students of English Literature

Hints and Tips

Very little of the John Johnson Collection is arranged chronologically.

By no means all of it is catalogued

The ProQuest project enables limiting by date. It can be accessed free of charge throughout the UK (and is available by institutional subscription elsewhere).

The Johnson online catalogue enables browsing by category and date and by place and date.

ESTC identified and catalogued most of the 18th century in the Collection

Some ESTC material from the John Johnson Collection is online through ECCO (Gale).

Which sections relate most closely to the Long 18th century?

This box takes you section by section through the Collection on a quest for ephemera from the Long 18th century

Advertising  Most 18th century advertisements have been catalogued and digitised for The John Johnson Collection, an archive of printed ephemera (which will be abbreviated to the ProQuest Project) except Scientific Instruments and Watches and Clocks. The individual sections can be browsed. You can limit your search to Advertisements and use the filters to limit by date. Taking a date range of 1688-1815, the following sections have NO results: Bazaars and Sales, Gas and Gas Appliances, Hats, Oxford Trade Pamphlets, Paper Bags, Sewing Cottons and Sewing Machines, and Soap. Lotteries has the most, with 851 results. For those without access to the ProQuest project, records without images are available through the Johnson online catalogue.  Letterpress advertisements can be also found on the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC).   Indexes, giving a guide to the contents of the boxes, are (mostly) online.

Artists   Few of the artists with dedicated boxes in the Artists section are 18th century, except Thomas Bewick and Hogarth  However, artists, engravers, etc. associated with ephemera in all catalogued sections can be found through the name indexes of the Johnson online catalogue and the ProQuest project.

Authors   There are thousands of reference to authors in our catalogue and through the ProQuest project. The small sections relating to authors, such as Jane Austen (secondary material and modern book jackets) and Thomas Dibdin.have not been digitised.

Booktrade   Online coverage of Booktrade material is patchy at present.  Pre-1801 Prospectuses were not digitised for the ProQuest project, as they are available on microfiche.  Prospectuses of Journals, however, which are kept by title, are online through the ProQuest project (records only through the Johnson online catalogue) as is the invaluable Trade Sale Catalogues volume.  Booktrade Trade Cards are not included in the ProQuest project, but most are catalogued and some digitised on our own online catalogue. Most Bookplates are catalogued (but rarely dated) through our own online catalogue with a small selection on ProQuest.

Education The Educational boxes contain material relating to schools, including special schools and schools for the poor. There is some material from the long 18th century, but most is later. This section is not catalogued.  We also have Battledores, Exercise Books, and a (catalogued and digitised) section of Writing Blanks, or Schoolboys' Pieces. Those writing blanks original to the Collection, new accessions and those in the Harding, Opie, Cheney and Rawlinson collections can be seen through the Johnson online catalogue ) browse, genre: writing blanks). All writing blanks are available through Digital Bodleian. Educational games can also be found in the John Johnson and Ballam Collections. Additionally, the playing cards in the Douce Collection are mounted on Digital Bodleian.

Entertainment   18th century Entertainment is online (with images) through the Johnson online catalogue and Digital Bodleian. 19th century Entertainment has also been digitised, with records on the Johnson online catalogue and records and images on the ProQuest site.

Form/Genre   Although much of the material in the Collection is kept by subject, some ephemera are kept by their Form. Of particular relevance are: Almanacks, Bellman's Verses, Bill Headings, Blank Forms, Broadsides, Elegies, Games, Labels, Penmen, Playing Cards, Receipts, Street Ballads, Tickets, Trade Cards, and Tradesmen's Lists. 

All Bodleian Ballads have been catalogued and digitised and are available through a stand-alone site, which now features image matching.  The Johnson Trade Cards are online through the Johnson online catalogue. They formed the basis of an exhibition in 2001: A Nation of Shopkeepers: Trade Ephemera from 1654 to the 1860s in the John Johnson Collection.  Board Games in the original Collection are online through the Johnson online catalogue and Digital Bodleian, The Ballam Collection, which includes some games from the long 18th century, is catalogued and images are available through GaRD (the Games Research database) with links from our catalogue entries. See also our Games for research LibGuide

Political, Religious, Social and Economic History   A large section, with much of relevance, especially in Commerce; Crime, Murders and Executions; East India Company; Elections; French Wars and Revolutions; Funerary; Insurance; Societies Charitable; and South Sea Company.  The Crime section has been catalogued and digitised for the ProQuest project, with an enhancement, Mapping Crime, which links other resources. Searching through Connected Histories enables further cross-searchability with other resources, such as the Old Bailey online.  For other sections, the best resource for 18th century material is ESTC, who picked up items dispersed in the various sections.  Mostly, this material has not otherwise been catalogued or digitised. Indexes can be found through the Johnson website  If there is no index online, please email:

Prints  The Collection includes thousands of prints.  Political Cartoons and Trades and Professions Prints are online (with images) through the Johnson online catalogue, and can be browsed and searched through  the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS).  The data on VADS has not been enhanced, so is richer  through the Johnson catalogue.  Popular Prints (shelfmark: The Trade in Prints and Scraps),  Printed on the Ice (Frost Fair material), Puzzle Pictures, and Window Pictures and Transparencies are online (records on the Johnson online catalogue, records and images through ProQuest.

Printing Processes   This mainly uncatalogued section includes material on Engravers and Engraving, Printers, Printers' Machinery and Printers' Marks, and on Paper (notably the Fourdrinier Papers, and Paper Making).  Beyond this, records in our online catalogue include identification of the printing process. Printers, engravers, etc are indexed.

Transport  Relevant sections include Bills of Lading, Carriages for Hire, Coaches, Coach Building, Shipping and Toll Gates and Tickets.  The Toyota Project (now archived) was mainly concerned with Motor Car ephemera, but includes sample images from other Transport sections. Some indexes to the Transport section are online.


Trade Card for Benjamin Morgan at the Ass and Foal, 1724

Trade card for Benjamin Morgan at the Ass and Foal, advertising asses milk, 1724

(C) John Johnson Collection: Food 2 (22)