Private Press Exhibition at Cambridge University Library

This was posted to EXLIBRIS:

The next display in Cambridge University Library’s Exhibition Centre, ‘Unregulated Printing: Modern Private Press Books’, will showcase some of the most attractive and interesting examples of post-War fine printing held in the Library.

Private press printing continues and develops the traditional printing skills: the use of handset metal type, hand-made papers and old presses. Such publications are usually produced in very limited editions, and are bound in good-quality materials such as traditionally-tanned leathers and marbled or patterned papers. ‘Unregulated Printing’ presents a selection of items published over the last sixty years, and shows the work of some of the hundreds of private presses represented in the Library’s collections.

Because commercial considerations are seldom of primary importance to private press printers, and because their print runs are usually very small, the temptation to experiment is often hard to resist. Formats can be adopted which would be unacceptable or impossible in a commercial context: broadsides and single-leaf keepsakes have always been a favourite medium, but many other unusual shapes and formats have appeared. There are numerous examples in the exhibition, including a triangular book, a book bound in stone, and a ‘deconstructed’ book reduced to an illegible object – a shredded text in a polythene bag.

The exhibition features items from around the English-speaking world, but highlights the work of two particularly well-known presses: the Gehenna Press of Northampton, Massachusetts, founded by the sculptor, printmaker and wood engraver Leonard Baskin; and, closer to home, the Rampant Lions Press of Cambridge and Over, founded by Will Carter and continued by his son Sebastian. Cambridge University Library has recently acquired the archive of the Rampant Lions Press, and documents from this collection will be on display in the exhibition.

Since the Second World War many large libraries, including the University Library, have acquired traditional printing equipment and established working presses, both to preserve historic items, and to instruct librarians and readers in the essentials of hand-press printing. Public demonstrations of the Library’s traditional presses will be given during the course of the exhibition. [dates to be confirmed]

It runs from 18 July – 16 December 2006 (closed 28 August and 18-25th September inclusive), closed Sundays. Opening times: Monday-Friday 09.00-18.00 Saturday 09.00-16.30, admission free. For more information and details of how to find the library, visit
The exhibition website is

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