James Mosley in “British type specimens before 1831: a hand-list” (1984) quotes from H. D. L. Vervliet’s introduction to “The type specimen of the Vatican Press, 1628 (1967):
“A type specimen may be understood to mean an orderly and preferably complete conspectus of the typefaces available in a particular typefoundry or printing house, offering a choice of types for sale in the one case and for use in the other. It may be a single sheet or a book. The text is of no importance in itself; it serves only to display the types” (In a note, the definition is extended to include ‘type specimens that advertise the development or availability for use of some one particular type)
The Massey College Type Specimen Collection consists of around 250 books and 1,000+ pamphlets and advertising ephemera ranging in date from the latter part of the 18th century to photo-typesetting specimens of the late twentieth century, just before the ascendance of digital type. The collection includes printed specimens of metal type from foundries such as Caslon, John Baskerville, Vincent Figgins, Stephenson Blake & Company, American Type Founders, Monotype, Linotype, Letraset, and printed specimens of wood type manufacturers such as the Hamilton Wood Type Company, Robt. D. Delittle, William H. Page & Company, and many others.
Not all of the Type Specimens are catalogued. Some of the printed ephemera is catalogued with the call number prefix “Type Pam” (for “pamphlet”). They can be browsed in the U of T Library Catalogue by searching within “Call number” with the term “Type Pam” in the search box (see here for example). The printed specimen books can be searched by the subject heading “Printing – Specimens”. Please contact the Librarian if you are interested in accessing uncatalogued material in this collection.