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Library of Historic Advertising

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2925 LHA
Held at: Middlesex University: University Collections
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Full title: Library of Historic Advertising
Date(s): 1880s-1970s
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: c 280 boxes and 5 shelves
Name of creator(s): McArthur | Colin | b 1934 | lecturer and writer on visual media


Administrative/Biographical history:

The collection was collated by Colin McArthur during the course of business of Half-Brick Images, his commercial picture business. McArthur was born in 1934, and was formerly Head of Distribution at the British Film Institute. Now a freelance teacher and writer, especially on Hollywood cinema, British television and Scottish culture, he is also a lecturer in the Visual and Cultural Media Department of Middlesex University.


Scope and content/abstract:

Large collection of original printed advertisements taken from a wide range of magazines, focussing primarily on British and American companies, and dating from the late 19th century to the 1970s. Products represented include clothing, cosmetics, food and drink, dental care, health, shaving, home and office, leisure, services (including armed forces and companies), tobacco and transport.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection is currently organised by company in broad subject categories. Some of the material is unsorted.

Conditions governing access:

By appointment. Users should contact the archivist Judy Vaknin (0208 411 6686/4399, email:

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the discretion of the Learning Resource Manager. The majority of images are still in copyright.

Finding aids:

A box list and index to boxed material are available.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The collection was previously known as the Half Brick Images collection.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Purchased by Middesex University (jointly by ILRS and the School of Art, Design and Performing Arts) in 1997.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Jan 2002

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