New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 2013,
First Edition. quarto, cloth in dust jacket. 208 pp. Oak Knoll Press, New. Item #23532
Founded by Will Carter in 1924, the Rampant Lions Press in Cambridge, England, established itself as one of the leading letterpress workshops in the decades after the Second World War. Will was joined by his son Sebastian in the 1960s, and the business became known worldwide for its craftsmanship and design skills. It was not strictly a private press, but rather a small publisher of fine editions and a printer for other publishers. The broad scope of its activities led to working on books by a wide range of authors and artists, including Michael Ayrton, Leonard Baskin, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, Anthony Gross, Thom Gunn, Tony Harrison, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Christopher Isherwood, David Jones, R B Kitaj, George Mackley, Haruki Murakami, John Nash, Harold Pinter, John Piper, Sylvia Plath, Patrick Procktor, Paula Rego, Michael Rothenstein, Salman Rushdie, Siegfried Sassoon, Ali Smith, Colm Tóibín, William Trevor and John Updike, among many others living and dead. For an exhibition of the Press's work at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in 1982, Sebastian Carter compiled a catalogue of the books shown. It consisted of 89 titles, about half the total printed so far. From then until the closure of the Press in 2008, the total grew to 321, and this Catalogue describes them all. There is a detailed description of each book, including its title page, typefaces, papers and bindings, together with any binding variants, and details of any prospectuses produced. There are 130 black and white illustrations and 16 pages of colour illustrations. Each entry has a note of the background of the title, providing important insights into the process of publication. In addition, the Catalogue is divided into four sections covering the main periods of the Presss history, and each section is prefaced with the story of that period, so that the book is in effect a history of the Press. There are also appendices devoted to the pressmarks, types and papers used by the Press, and the publicity materials produced. Sebastian Carter studied English Literature and Fine Arts at Kings College, Cambridge, and then worked with publishers and design studios in London, and the Trianon Press in Paris, before joining his father Will Carter at the Rampant Lions Press, which he later ran until 2008. He writes extensively on printing and typography, reviewing regularly for The Times Literary Supplement. His Twentieth Century Type Designers (1987; paperback 2002) has become a standard work. He is European editor of Parenthesis, the journal of the Fine Press Book Association. He contributed a number of entries to The Oxford Companion to the Book (2011) and has written the type history sections of The History of the Monotype Corporation, to be published by the Printing Historical Society. He received the 2013 laureate award from the American Printing History Association. Illustrated. New.