Roy Gurney

The Roy Gurney collection is the library’s second largest rare book collection. It was collected as examples of early printing and binding  by Roy Gurney who was Plant Superintendent  at the University of Toronto Press in the 1960s and one of the original “Quadrats”, a group of printers and graphic designers who worked with the printing presses in the Bibliography Room at Massey College with the Founding Librarian, Doug Lochhead, and other Canadian book and graphic designers, typographers and artists such as Carl Dair, Alan Fleming, Sam Smart, Peter Dorn, Harold Kurschenska, Will Rueter, John Dyment and Denis Milton. Both Roy Gurney and Carl Dair (among others) were instrumental in helping Doug Lochhead and Robertson Davies establish the printing collections at Massey College in acquiring and donating presses and other printing equipment. In addition to his rare book collection, Gurney donated his wood type collection and the College’s Washington Press, still in use today.

The Gurney collection consists of a wide range of printed books, predominantly from the 16th and 17th centuries, but also includes examples from the 19th century, and other examples of earlier forms of text transmission such as the Oto Ege Leaves and an example of a cuneiform tablet.

Italian, German, Swiss, French, English, Scottish, Dutch, and other imprints from a range of printers are represented in the collection including books printed by Aldus Manutius, Christophe Plantin, House of Elzevir, and others.

Only parts of this collection are catalogued; those interested in accessing it should contact the Librarian. Like the McLean collection, it is organized by size (folio, quarto, octavo, duodecimo, miniature) and the call number begins with the prefix “Gurney”. It can be browsed in the U of T Library Catalogue  by searching “call number” and entering the first part of the call number (ex. “Gurney Q” or “Gurney”)  in the search box.

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