Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes


An exceptional collection of printed ephemera has been donated to Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library by Robert Biggert in honor of Lisa Ann Riveaux. The unique assemblage of over 1,300 items of commercial stationery with architectural imagery spans the dates 1850 to 1920. The collection’s billheads, letterheads, envelopes, checks, and business cards therefore document the rise of the United States as an industrial nation, in often elaborate vignettes of factories, warehouses, mines, offices, stores, banks, and hotels.

The material offers a wealth of possibilities for architectural historians, as well as students of commerce and graphic design. There are numerous images from the same businesses over successive decades, which show how their buildings grew over time in tandem with changes in typographic taste. Over forty-five states are represented by examples, as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. possessions. New York City is particularly well-documented, with over one hundred items portraying structures below Houston Street alone. Industries range from livestock, textiles, printing, roofing, and brewing to wagon works, cordage, and merchandising.

The collection, which is fully arranged by state, city, and company, is currently available to researchers by appointment in the Avery Classics rare book reading room.