The University of California, Riverside's impressive collection of printing presses and type, the largest of any American university, is a gift reflecting one man's life-long interest and reverence for books and the craft of their production. Since the 1970s, Dr. Edward C. Petko, M.D., a bibliophile and himself an amateur-printer, has salvaged fonts and presses destined to be melted down and sold as scrap metal, and beautiful wooden printing cabinets headed for landfills. Recounting his mission, Dr. Petko said, "I thought to myself: this is the end of an era, and artifacts are being destroyed that were essential to chronicling our civilization."
The Petko Collection consists of fifteen 19th and 20th- century fully functioning printing presses, more than sixty cabinets of fonts, and other printing equipment, including authentic compositor's sticks and ink balls. Special Collections & Archives maintains an active printing workshop, offering two four-credit book arts classes open to UCR undergraduate and graduate students. Appointments may also be made for demonstrations and workshops. As Dr. Petko himself said, "I don't want these presses to sit in the corner gathering dust. I want you, and you, and you to feel free to come up here and use these printing presses, and reconnect with your history."
Dr. Edward Petko donated his priceless collection in loving memory of his parents, Antonia Bucho Petko and Adam Repán Petko. He also instituted an annual book collecting competition in memory of his father open to UCR undergraduate and graduate students.
In May 2008 a bookbinding collection from the shop of the late master book restorer Max Adjarian, was donated to Special Collections by Fred and Catherine Adjarian, Mr. Adjarian's son and daughter-in-law. The collection of antique binding tools, equipment, materials, marbled papers and samples of fine bindings complements the printing press collection.