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Special Collections: Historic Advertising

Advertising Images

Library of Historic Advertising

This is one of the archives and special collections held by the Library. It is a fascinating collection of printed advertisements taken from British and American magazines. Thousands of advertisements are organised by company in categories such as travel, clothing, transport and food, and ranging in date from the 19th century to the 1970s.


The Library of Historic Advertising was acquired by Middlesex University in 1997 from Colin McArthur, a former member of staff and collector who had, over many years, gathered together an extensive and valuable range of printed advertisements which reflect changes in products, design, illustration, photography, advertising techniques, fashion and style over the twentieth century.

Scope of the Collection

The collection comprises over 300 boxes of advertisements, organised in product categories and by companies. The advertisements are a valuable resource for all students and researchers of all aspects of design history. Subject areas include: clothing, cosmetics, tobacco, vehicles, services, leisure, food and drink, travel and health.

Access and Use

The collection is kept in a reserve store, but adverts or boxes can be brought to the Materials Room (Sheppard Library, Basement). The images are a valuable source of inspiration and ideas for anyone studying the story of advertising or social history.

The Materials Room is open from 11am to 4pm Monday to Friday, when specialist help is usually available. Contact Marion ( for more information.


Advertising Images