THE RAMPANT LIONS PRESS:
A NARRATIVE CATALOGUE
Oak Knoll Press / Sebastian Carter, 2013
(Although the book states the publication year as 2013, I don’t think it was actually published until early 2014. The deluxe copies were definitely not published until early 2014.)
The book was designed by Sebastian Carter, typeset by Charles Hall, and printed by Sheridan Books, Inc. The letterpress contents of the portfolio that accompany the specials were designed and printed by Will and Sebastian Carter, Cambridge, UK.
Published in an unlimited standard edition by Oak Knoll Press, New Castle, Delaware, US, and 40 deluxe specials and 10 extra deluxe specials by Sebastian Carter, Cambridge, UK.
I’d first got wind of this book a few years ago when I received a Rampant Lions Press stocklist from Sebastian Carter that mentioned a bibliography as ‘work in progress’. Although there were no concrete details of the publication, there was mention of there being two intended states of special copies with portfolios. There were to be forty de luxe copies with a portfolio of Rampant Lions Press material, and ten extra de luxe copies in which the portfolio would contain an additional selection of rare treats for avid collectors like myself. Well, me being me, seconds passed before I was on the phone to Carter to put my name down for a copy of the extra de luxe edition! I was extremely fortunate that they’d not already been earmarked. All I had to do now was wait three or four years for completion and publication.
The eventual edition, designed by Carter and exhaustively researched by him over several years, is everything a bibliography could hope to be. Informative and engaging, this work offers frequently entertaining accounts of the history and products of one of the most highly regarded fine presses of our time. This is a most worthwhile, laudable work of reference that should be on the shelves of anyone with an interest in fine press printing and typography.
The book, published in the standard edition by Oak Knoll Press, is a trade-printed offset litho affair, rather than letterpress, but it’s well done and well worth having. My only niggle with it is the main use of black and white images throughout. This is partially addressed with a special colour section towards the end, but for a illustrative book this important all of the imagery should have been printed full colour. This aside, it is still a fine piece of work.
But now to what it is that makes my copy so marvellous that I have it in my Books of the Moment: the fact that mine is one of the extra deluxe copies! It is in the form of the fifty deluxe/extra deluxe copies, published by Carter himself, that this edition as a whole becomes something altogether quite special. These copies, signed and numbered by Carter on a colophon page slightly amended from the main edition, are specially bound in dark blue cloth, with an additional letterpress portfolio in quarter dark blue cloth with marbled paper over boards, all contained in a matching dark blue cloth slipcase. The forty de luxe portfolios contain ten sheets from different Rampant Lions Press publications, including wood engravings, a prospectus and various different sample pages, plus a booklet containing type facsimilies and prints taken from a variety of original wood engraving blocks. The ten extra de luxe portfolios contain a further selection of items of great rarity from the Rampant Lions Press archives.
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