Jay Last launched his passion for collecting printed paper while pioneering the American high-tech industry on the west coast. Considered one of the founders of Silicon Valley, Last made a business move in the early 1970s from northern California to the orange-growing south where citrus box labels at local flea markets sparked his interest in color lithography, printing history, and ephemera. These labels displayed some of the most spectacular graphics he had ever seen and would form the seminal archive of his entire collection.
The Jay T. Last Collection is an unparalleled archive of more than 140,000 printed paper artifacts of mostly nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American origin, representing works by more than five hundred lithographic companies. A gift in progress, this collection of commercial prints and ephemera is an important scholarly resource for studying the American histories of lithographic printing, business, and social science, as well as for illustrating the evolution of commercial advertising, visual culture, and graphic design.
The Huntington Library has, in addition to the Jay T. Last Collection, holdings of more than 650,000 prints, posters, ephemera, color plate books and extra-illustrated books. For a selection of this vast collection’s holdings, please see the Prints and Ephemera Collection in the Huntington Digital Library.