The collection was established in 1954 based on the several hundred books of typographical interest given in the 1940s and 1950s to the library by William George Colgate of Toronto. The collection is noted for its extensive holdings on the history and technique of printing; calligraphy and letter forms; design of typefaces and typographical productions; type founding and type founders' specimens and printers' manuals and handbooks, including those for colour printing and paper making. The collection's largest holdings are in the many specimens of modern fine printing, mostly after 1850; work by the American typographer W.A. Dwiggins; specimens of book bindings; and three iron printing presses. There are some 12,500 monographs. Related material will be found in the Manuscript Collection and in the Print Collection. Records for most of the holdings of the Colgate Collection the holdings are in the McGill Library on-line catalogue.