Martha L. Carothers collection of paper sample catalogs and art and design publications

Biographical and Historical Notes

Martha L. Carothers is a book artist and Professor Emerita of Art and Design at the University of Delaware who specializes in graphic design and book arts (typography, book design, bookbinding, and letterpress printing). Her work as a book artist has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her books are part of museum and library collections including the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, and Cooper-Hewitt Museum.

Carothers taught ART 309, Book Arts, at the University of Delaware for over thirty years. The course was designed to provide an overview of book arts, teach students binding and other construction methods, and guide student work in producing creative books. Course topics included conceptualization and ideation, execution, pacing, use of appropriate materials, craft, and attention to deadlines. Students in the course learned hands-on application of bookmaking tools such as adhesives, utility knives, bone folders, and binding boards.


"Martha Carothers | University of Delaware." Martha Carothers | University of Delaware. Accessed April 29, 2019.

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises two series, I. Paper sample catalogs and II. Art and design publications, from circa 1963-2013 (bulk 1970-2000) collected by art and design professor Martha L. Carothers in support of her teaching and artistic activities.

Series I., Paper sample catalogs, comprises American and worldwide paper manufacturers' sample books and catalogs designed to advertise selections of paper for various commercial and artistic purposes. Samples contained within the catalogs showcase the physical properties of the varying paper, such as weight, texture, and color, and often demonstrate how the paper responds to a range of printing and mechanical processes available to the consumer. These include lithography, gravure, halftone, laserjet, silkscreen, coating, embossing, and metallic stamping. Many of the catalogs feature elaborate graphic design elements and offer the wide range of paper goods and printing services provided by the manufacturer.

The sample booklets are arranged alphabetically by paper manufacturer or wholesaler. The collection contains samples from large importers and distributors such as James River Corporation and Westvaco Corporation, as well as samples and specimens from independent proprietors such as Mohawk Paper Mills and French Paper Co. The series contains sixteen volumes of Champion papers' Imagination series, which ran from 1963 to 1988. Produced by Champion in collaboration with prominent graphic designers, each Imagination issue explored a single subject visually via photographs, typographical elements, and illustrations printed on a variety of Champion papers.

Series II., Art and design publications, comprises various magazines, newsletters, type-specimen catalogs, and other printed materials related to art, graphic design, book arts, fine printing, and typography from circa 1971 to 2002. The series is arranged into four subseries: II.A., General art and design publications; II.B., Book arts; II.C., Fine printing; and II.D., Typography.

Series II.A., General art and design publications, comprises magazines, newsletters, and catalogs on a wide range of topics including fine art, graphic design, color, process, photography, cartoon art, poster collections, art and design exhibitions and conferences, regional arts events, profiles of designers, and samples from design firms. Of note are publications by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) from circa 1975 to 1998, which feature works by commercial artists, designers, and design studios and showcase popular art and design aesthetics in the late 20th century.

Series II.B., Book arts, comprises several small artists' books; newsletters and magazines featuring topics in book arts such as bookbinding and book production; exhibition catalogs; and catalogs of work-for-sale. The publications were produced by the Guild of Bookworkers; the Iowa Center for the Book; the Journal of Artists' Books; the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA); Movable Stationery; the Women's Studio Workshop (WSW), and several others.

Series II.C., Fine printing, comprises a small amount of letterpress and screen printing samples.

Series II.D., Typography, comprises magazines such as Baseline, an international typographics magazine, as well as several type specimen catalogs and directories by the International Typeface Corporation, Letraset, Photo-Lettering, Inc., and the World Typeface Center (WTC).