Alpern Collection


Cover of the Andrew Alpern Collection of Drawing Instruments catalogue

An outstanding collection of early architectural drawing instruments comprised of 170 English, Continental and American sets and individual pieces spanning over three centuries of exquisite craftsmanship in silver, ivory, steel and brass.  The collection, which also includes numerous trade catalogues and other rare books about the instruments, was assembled by noted New York architectural historian Andrew Alpern and donated to the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library in 2007. The collection is available to researchers by appointment at Avery Library's Department of Drawings and Archives.

  • Exhibition on view at Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library
    For information about visiting, please contact the Library Information Office.
  • Article on the Alpern collection
    "Restoring the Studio of a Meticulous Sculptor", New York Times, August 26, 2010
  • Book reviews
    "Nerd rules", New Republic, September 15, 2010
    "Drawing inspiration", Architects Newspaper, September 17, 2010 
  • Lecture and book signing with Andrew Alpern and Jim O'Gorman was held on
    Thursday, November 4, 2010, 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
    Columbia University, 523 Butler Library (more)
  • Catalogue available from Amazon and Avery Library
    This catalogue is the first to describe such a major collection and includes information on the instruments, their makers, and some of the original owners.  It is illustrated with 235 high-resolution close-up photographs that convey a wealth of information about these exquisite instruments, which are crafted in steel, brass, and solid silver, and are contained in cases of fish skin, leather, tortoise shell, shagreen, and fine woods.

Video: The Andrew Alpern Collection of Drawing Instruments