The Rampant Lions Press


The Rampant Lions Press was founded by Will Carter, and published its first book in 1936. Will’s son Sebastian joined the Press full-time in 1966. Over the years the Press built up a reputation as one of the leading fine presses in the world. Sebastian retired at the end of 2008, and closed the workshop. Books still available from the Press are listed on the next page of this website.

Here are some of the comments people have made about Sebastian Carter’s work at the Press over the years:

Imaginative and elegant design. Beckett has been well served on these pages … His words have been given their proper, forward bearing, dominant space. It is a joy to see.

Doris Grumbach reviewing As the Story was Told (1987) in Fine Print

The potential demonstrated and the fecundity of ideas in this book make it an important statement on the state of fine printing, and a hopeful indicator of where the fine press book may be going.

Alastair Johnston reviewing A Printer’s Dozen (1993) in Bookways

The quality and craftsmanship of this production reveal Sebastian Carter to be a truly fine letterpress printer working at the height of his powers.

Phil Cleaver reviewing In Praise of Letterpress (2001) in Parenthesis

If obliged to choose a favourite among contemporary British letterpress printers, I would sweat profusely for a while before selecting Rampant Lions. … Sebastian Carter’s eye for design, and skill in the magic of making marks on paper with inked type and blocks, seems to me almost beyond criticism.

Paul W Nash in Matrix, 2004.

This is an extraordinarily thoughtful work of impeccable craftsmanship.

Scott Krafft reviewing In the Beginning (2006) in Parenthesis.

                             Sebastian Carter 

Sebastian Carter was born in 1941 in Cambridge, England. He was educated at Christ’s Hospital, and King’s College, Cambridge, reading English and Architecture and Fine Arts. He then worked as a designer with the London publisher John Murray, followed by two years in Paris with the Trianon Press. Back in London he worked for the  Stellar Press and Ruari McLean Associates, as well as working freelance. In 1966 he married Penelope Kerr and moved back to Cambridge to join his father Will Carter at the Rampant Lions Press. He became a partner in 1971 and took over the business in 1991, retiring in 2008.

Alongside his work at the Rampant Lions Press, Sebastian Carter has written extensively on typographical and other subjects, beginning with editing the Christ’s Hospital literary magazine The Outlook, and continuing with contributions to Granta at Cambridge. He has contributed to 25 out of the 29 numbers of the Whittington Press’s journal Matrix so far, and in 2008 took over the European editorship of Parenthesis, the journal of the Fine Press Book Association, from Dennis Hall. He writes occasional reviews for The Times Literary Supplement, and The Book Collector.

In 1982 he produced the first catalogue of the Rampant Lions Press’s output for the exhibition of the Press’s work at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and he is currently working on a full catalogue of all the books printed at the Press, to be published to coincide with another Fitzwilliam exhibition planned for 2015.

In 1984 he wrote The Book Becomes, an account of the printing at the Rampant Lions Press of William Morris and Burne-Jones’s Story of Cupid and Psyche (1974), with a discussion of broader issues of fine printing.

The first edition of his Twentieth Century Type Designers was published by Trefoil (and Taplinger in the USA) in 1987, and it has been continuously in print since then, becoming the standard work. A second edition was published by Lund Humphries (Norton in the USA) in 1995, and a paperback edition in 2002.

Sebastian guest edited a number of The Monotype Recorder on Eric Gill in 1990, and contributed a section ‘The Morison Years’ to the centenary Recorder in 1997. He is a co-author of the History of the Monotype Corporation to be published by the Printing Historical Society. He contributed a number of entries to The Oxford Companion to the Book (2010).

A full list of his writings is available as a Word attachment on request.