The Appleton Collection includes material on colour printing and publishers' case binding from about 1840 to 1890. It represents the significance of the period, for example, the exuberance of design, with lavish use of multiple impressions for separate colours to achieve excellent results. In binding styles the same riot of invention appears - elaborately blocked cloth bindings, with coloured overlays in paper or cloth, and exotic experimentation with deep relief covers in leather, wood and paper mâché.

The major colour printers and designers of the period are represented in the collection - Baxter, Fawcett, Owen Jones, Noel Humphreys, Leighton, together with examples of commercial printing. Covering the span from 1829 to 1899, the majority of titles fall within the period 1845 to 1885, with a peak representation around the year 1860.

The collection was bought from Tony Appleton, a Brighton bookseller specialising in typography and printing. He gathered it to be representative of Victorian colour printing and designer-signed publishers' bindings. Selective purchases since then have increased the size of the collection from 300 items to approximately 450 items. Items are no longer being added.