This collection was gathered over forty years by New York architect, historian, and attorney Andrew Alpern, largely by purchase at auction and from private dealers in the United States and Europe. The collection was a gift from Mr. Alpern to Avery Library in 2006. For further information about the gift and additional images, please see the Columbia Libraries' press release.
The bulk of the collection consists of 177 groups of English, Continental and American drafting sets and individual instruments dating from circa 1700 to 2004. These instruments were used to create technical drawings, typically by architects, draftsmen, engineers, surveyors, and students. Complementing the instruments are a small group of miscellaneous items—including medals, a model, necktie, waistcoat, and charm bracelet—and a large group of published materials, including trade catalogs and other technical, biographical, historical, and scholarly writings about drafting and scientific instruments and related subjects.