A directory of type foundry catalogs available online.
Type specimens are time capsules of typographic history. There is no substitute for seeing them in person, but you can now use a web browser to track the evolution of type design through the pages of over two hundred manufacturer catalogs from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries. For years, I accessed these books via an unwieldy pile of bookmarks, downloads, and repetitive searches. As far as I know, there is no central register of digitized type specimens. This database attempts to fill that gap.
Years are often estimates. Type catalogs seldom included dates, and some bound together specimen pages printed over various years.
A few of the catalogs are published by printers or type distributors, not foundries. A future update will label these notable exceptions.
This database lists major catalogs showing a broad range of a foundry’s offerings. For specimens of individual typefaces, see Fonts In Use.