University of the Arts group visit The Ritman Library

On 20 March 2013 a group of students of the Typographic Interest Group from the University of the Arts in London visited The Ritman Library. Curator José Bouman offered the group a guided tour of the library, all the way up to the rare books room. We asked Phil Baines, Professor of Typography, to write a brief account of their trip through Belgium and the Netherlands and the afternoon spent at The Ritman Library.


The students are from both our BA and our MA courses and are part of a Typographic Interest Group (TSI) which I run, an optional extra part of the curriculum. In addition to the Ritman we visited the Type & Media course at KABK, and Museum Meermanno in The Hague; Special Collections at UvA and some design studios in Amsterdam before going to Antwerp to the Plantin-Moretus. [Some students then went to Brussels with me for the Awards ceremony of the Prix Fernand Baudin Prijs which I had been jury president of earlier in the year.]

I was unaware of the Ritman until a few weeks before our departure and came as a result of a recommendation by a friend in Amsterdam – Pieter Verbeke, owner of Sans Seriffe bookshop. Because the library collects from the point of view of knowledge, there are several editions of many titles. Responding to a brief outline of who we were, the curator prepared a small selection of material related to significant figures in printing history such as Manutius, Kerver, Plantin, Didot and Bodoni. Seeing a few titles with several editions proved a perfect vehicle to show the changes in type and book design over several centuries and helped tie together some of the historical threads which had emerged at the other collections visited during our trip.

I will certainly include the library in any further visits to Amsterdam and warmly recommend it to others.

Phil Baines

Professor of Typography, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London

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