Exhibitions and publications

johnson posters motoring poster


The Art of Advertising (2020–2021)

'The Art of Advertising' tells the story of British advertising from the mid 18th century to the 1930s from three perspectives: the development of printing, the birth of commercial art and the extent to which advertising mirrored society. This third theme is explored through subjects such as class, the perception of women, celebrities, royalty, politics, war and local history.

The physical exhibition closed on 31 August 2021. The online exhibition includes images of all exhibits with captions.

The accompanying book, 'The Art of Advertising', addresses the themes of the exhibition through a series of extended essays by Julie Anne Lambert, Michael Twyman, Lynda Mugglestone, Helen Clifford, Ashley Jackson and David Tomkins. 'Vintage Advertising: An A to Z' by Julie Anne Lambert takes a lighter approach to a selection of themes, juxtaposing images of different times and styles.

The John Johnson Collection, 1971

This exhibition showcased the collection (transferred from OUP in 1968) to the world. The catalogue remains the standard work on the collection and its formation, and is available online (PDF, 1.6MB).

A Nation of Shopkeepers, 2001

'A Nation of Shopkeepers: Trade Ephemera' from 1654 to the 1860s in the John Johnson Collection was an exhibition which showcased trade cards, trades and professions prints (which are digitised), and Bill Headings. Themes included The Great Exhibition, Oxford Trade, Juvenilia, and Women in Trade.

The exhibition was accompanied by a website created in 2001, and the website is shown as an example of web ephemera. This was the Bodleian Library's first online exhibition. An archived version of the website is available to view.

Children's Games and Pastimes, 2006

This exhibition drew on the John Johnson, Harding and Opie Collections to showcase the ephemera of children's learning through play, and included board games, paper dolls and protean figures, engraved writing blanks, alphabets, metamorphoses, jigsaws, writing and drawing materials, and a toy theatre. Find out more about this exhibition on our Visit site.

Other displays

Sappho to Suffrage (2018 – 2019)

This exhibition (curated by Senia Paseta) drew extensively on material from the John Johnson and John Fraser collections.

The Season for Love: A collection of choice valentines from the John Johnson Collection, February 2010

The Season for Love was a small exhibition of valentines and items relating to their manufacture. It was shown in the Proscholium cases in the Old Bodleian Library, Oxford. In addition to showcasing a range of choice valentines from the John Johnson Collection, it contained items relating to the making of valentines, including a tin seller's stock book, a paint box and a copper plate with vignettes of cupids. Find out more about this exhibition on our Visit site.

The London Year: London Transport Posters of the 1930s, March – April 2010

This exhibition (in the Proscholium cases) showcased 24 small panel posters for London Transport and the Underground Electric Railways Company Ltd. Mainly produced for specific events (such as the Boat Race, Chelsea Flower Show, Trooping the Colour or Chestnut Sunday) their arrangement by month showed some of the delights of a year in London.


Current publications

The Bodleian Library shop gives details of all Bodleian Library Publishing publications. Current publications based on the John Johnson Collection include:

Out of print

The following titles are now out of print and are available online:

John Fraser Collection books

Also available is a series of books based on the John Fraser Collection of Propaganda Postcards. The superb John Fraser Collection (PDF) was donated to the Bodleian Library in 2007 and now forms part of the John Johnson Collection. A series of books was written by Andrew Roberts, in 2008 – 2009, on the following themes: