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India Office Prints Collection

Collection Details

India Office Prints Collection held at Asian and African Studies [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

Most of the items in the print collection are British in origin and depict scenes in India and South East Asia. They date from the mid-seventeenth century onwards and display subjects ranging from topographical views to social scenes and portraits of British and Indian personages. The collection also holds some prints published in France, Germany and Holland.

History and development

Loose prints were acquired mostly individually or in sets for framing and display in the East Indis House and then the India Office. Later acquisitions have aimed to make the collection as comprehensive as possible.


When considered in conjunction with plate books in European Printed Books, the print collection is one of the most comprehensive in existence. It includes aquatints after William Hodges, Thomas and William Daniell, Henry Salt, James Baillie Fraser and Robert Smith. Many rare sets of nineteenth century lithographs, and an almost complete range of prints of Calcutta, are also held.

General arrangement and access regulations

The collection consists of about 3,000 loose prints, which are kept in portfolios in the Print Room adjacent to the OOIOC Reading Room. They are accessed by P numbers and are viewable in the Print Room by appointment. The loose prints are mostly additional to the large collection of plate books in the India Office European Printed Books collections. Handlists of the loose prints, arranged according to subject or portrait, are kept in the Prints, Drawings and Photographs room, as well as the OIOC Reading Room.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Central Asia and the Caucasus, East Asia, Near & Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, South East Asia.


Agriculture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Arts, Education, Geography, History, Human rights, Industries, International relations, Language, Law, Literature, Politics and government, Recreation, Religion, Science and technology, Sociology, Travel, Women.

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Maps (includes all types of cartographic material), Visual materials (includes photographs, prints, drawings, videos & films).

Total size of collection

About 3,000 loose prints and a few bound volumes.

Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has stayed the same.

Annual intake

A few per annum

Content date range

1600 to 1950 AD

Collection Catalogue Information


A dedicated computerised database is available in the OIOC Reading Room. This is now available on-line at

Collection printed catalogues

Prints of South East Asia in the India Office Library.
Rohatgi, Pauline and Bastin, John.
London, 1979.

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