Avery’s Architectural Ephemera Collections

Architectural Letterheads > Architectural Letterhead Collections


The architectural letterhead collections are comprised of commercial stationery from nineteenth- and twentieth-century American businesses. These letterheads chart the rise of the United States as an industrial nation through detailed architectural vignettes featuring factories, warehouses, offices, stores, banks, and hotels. Brought to the Avery Library through two separate donations, one collection examines this material in a national context, while the other focuses specifically on the evolution of buildings throughout lower Manhattan.

The Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery contains thousands of letterheads with architectural imagery from over 350 cities and towns. Many items within this collection have been digitized and are accessible through its online database; below are examples of just a few.

The John H. Yardley Collection of Architectural Letterheads includes over 500 pieces of commercial stationery illustrating buildings in lower Manhattan. Most items are arranged by street, which allows researchers to chart a path through the city, one address at a time. The examples below reveal vignettes depicting a few buildings that stand, or once stood, along Maiden Lane.

Accessing the Architectural Letterheads

Item-level CLIO records are not available for individual letterheads at this time. The Biggert Collection has a single CLIO record and call number (Avery Classics AA705 B48) assigned to the entire collection. Within each state’s section, the items are arranged by city, company, and date. Patrons can either request binders to consult during a research appointment or they can browse the collection in its online database.

Visit the Biggert Collection Online

The Yardley Collection is currently being digitized and will soon be available online. In the meantime, the entire collection is available for in-person consultation. When requesting a research appointment to view Yardley material, patrons should note the CLIO record or call number (Avery Classics AA735 N4 J619) along with the desired streets.

Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library / 300 Avery, M.C. 0301 / 1172 Amsterdam Avenue / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-3501 / avery@libraries.cul.columbia.edu