The Rampant Lions Press, Cambridge, 1924-2008.


Photographic Image: Sebastian and Will Carter.
Inspired by the venerable tradition of private presses in England, the Rampant Lions Press was a small publisher of fine editions and a designer-printer for other publishers.
With very few exceptions, they designed every book that came out of the workshop.
They printed all books by letterpress, mostly on hand or mould-made papers.
They specialised in elegant, but colourful typography, and made inventive use of a small repertoire of exceptional metal typefaces, including several designed by Hermann Zapf and the Golden Cockerel Roman designed by Eric Gill.
Will Carter founded the Rampant Lions Press in 1924, at the age of twelve.
He moved to Cambridge in 1934, published the first book in 1936, and turned the Press into a full time business in 1948.
His son Sebastian joined him in the 1960s and closed the Press in 2008.

His masterpiece was probably William Morris’s The Story of Cupid and Psyche in 1974, set in Morris’s types and illustrated with the blocks engraved by Morris from Burne-Jones’s designs.
Carter printed the book jointly with his son Sebastian, who joined the press in 1966.
In 2013, Sebastian received the American Printing History Association individual laureate award for ‘a distinguished contribution to the study, recording, preservation or dissemination of printing history’.
via History of Rampant Lions Press.


Print in 18th Century Manchester.


Pre-industrial Manchester: The south-west prospect of Manchester and Salford by John Harris, c.1734.
Today we think of Manchester as the world’s first industrial city and a crucible of industrial revolution in the nineteenth century.
But in the fifteenth century it was a prosperous market town on the banks of the Rivers Irwell and Irk.
It had a manor house and a collegiate church (which became the cathedral in 1847) and there was an embryonic textile industry with Flemish weavers and cloth merchants attracted to the town.
The domestic buildings associated with the collegiate church and the cathedral itself are all that remain of the medieval buildings of the town.
During the Reformation the domestic buildings fell into disrepair and suffered further abuse and neglect during The English Civil War.
The buildings were renovated during the seventeenth century by the gentleman-merchant Sir Humphrey Chetham, and in 1653 he founded Chetham’s Library, the oldest surviving public library in Great Britain, in the restored buildings.
The first book printed in Manchester was John Jackson’s Mathematical lectures read to the Mathematical Society in Manchester, printed by Roger Adams in 1719.
via First Impressions | Manchester.

The Albion Printing Press, 1859.

The Albion Press at Museum Victoria is a table model hand lever press. 
The original Albion Press was invented in Great Britain around 1820 by Cope (who died in 1828).
The Albion at the Museum was manufactured in 1859 by the company Hopkinson and Cope.
It was donated by the Victorian Government Printing Office in 1979.
Its previous use is unknown but a similar press was used at the Post Office in Melbourne and was offered to the Printing Office in 1862.
It appears to have been used by the Government Printing office for minor jobbing work and proofing of galleys.
A forme was placed on the iron bed of the press and inked by roller or ink ball; a sheet of paper was placed on the open tympan (packing used to equalise the type pressure) the frisket (strong paper used to prevent the non printing areas of the forme appearing on the impression) was closed down over the tympan to hold the paper in place and the whole folded down over the type forme, resting slightly above the inked type.
The bed was then wound under the platen by a handle attached to a central rounce (handle) under the bed, the handle when pulled forward brought the platen down and an impression was taken.
The handle was pushed back and impression lifted and the bed wound back out, where the tympan was lifted off, frisket was lifted off and the printed sheet removed.
via Printing Press – Hopkinson & Cope, Albion, 1859 – Museum Victoria.

Definition of a ‘Printing Office’ c 1890.

In my experience the term “printing office” was quite a common term to describe a printing establishment, The Old Guv was known as the Government Printing Office and most of the other States of Australia used the same term, it was also used in the United Kingdom and United States.
The term “print shop” was generally used to describe a small to medium printing establishment. It appears the correct terminology was a bit of an issue back in the 1890s
The 1897 Brit­ish Printer art­icle, below, sets out their thoughts on ‘Print­ing Office’ from that time.
Refer­ring to the use of the term “office” as the name given to a printer’s estab­lish­ment, The Printer and Book­maker says:
“The dic­tion­ar­ies do not recog­nise any mean­ing of office which would jus­tify its use for a place where print­ing is car­ried on. Prop­erly, the busi­ness office of a print­ing office is the only part of the estab­lish­ment entitled to the word. The pro­pri­etor and the book-keeper or type­writ­ist are the only ones who are really jus­ti­fied in say­ing, ‘We are going down to the office now.’
The typos, press­men, et al., should say, ‘We are going down to the shop,’ if they wish to be exact. Cus­tom has sanc­tioned office, how­ever, and its use is prob­ably suf­fi­ciently fixed to last for cen­tur­ies. This being the case, it is time that the dic­tion­ar­ies recog­nised the mean­ing in which print­ers use the word, that the knights of the stick may be backed by lex­ico­graph­ical authority.”
via The Printing “Office” | British Letterpress.

Durer’s Drawing of a Printing Press, Nuremberg, c. 1511.

Durer’s Drawing of a Printing Press
Sketch by Albrecht Durer, 1511, probably drawn from memory.
Tools shown on the cheek of the press are the same Y-shaped tool shown in the Ascensius press marks, and a pair of dividers.
Durer’s sketch. although it shows the screw running in the wrong direction, seems to be done from observation. (Durer was the godson of Nuremberg printer and publisher, Anton Koberger, and had a press in his home.)
In the well-known 1628 copperplate engraving published in Haarlem by Peter Scriverius, the scissors, dividers and paste-brush are shown again on the head of the press. In this engraving, called “the first accurate representation of a press,” the mysterious tool of 1520 is not shown.
A hammer or mallet is shown hanging from the left cheek of the press, used of course for planing the form and setting the quoins and sidesticks.
Sidesticks were strips of wood or metal; when wedged against quoins, they secured one side of a locked-up page.
Source: Early Printer’s Tools – Letterpress Commons