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Sombre Reptiles Press records

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Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Berkeley, California-based Sombre Reptiles Press was founded in 1978 by poet Jerry Ratch and artist Mary Ann Hayden. The award-winning press published eighteen books of prose and poetry between 1978 and 1984. Sombre Reptiles's work often features Hayden’s original artwork and illustration, as well as stylistic elements designed by Hayden that seem to be characteristic of the press: horizontal lines resembling blocked-out text, and the playful use of horizontal numbers, particularly the numeral "2." With works by Hayden and Ratch and authors such as Darrell Gray, Alastair Johnston of The Poltroon Press, Kathleen Fraser, Jerry Estrin, Robert Peters, and Michael Wolfe of the Tombuctou Press, the collection represents the position Sombre Reptiles held as an integral participant in the circle of small-press printers in the Berkeley area in the mid- to late-1970s and 1980s

Historical information derived from the collection.

The Sombre Reptiles Press records consists of approximately one linear foot of material related to the operation of the Press and the publication of its works. Spanning the dates 1977 and 1994, with the bulk of the material 1977-1982, the collection includes published books, broadsides, ephemera, layouts, paste-ups, announcements, cards, typescripts, artwork, manuscripts, page proofs, galley proofs, and correspondence. The collection demonstrates the press's artistic range and its participation in the circle of private presses in the variety of authors represented who also owned or ran their own presses.

The collection is divided into four series: I Works by Sombre Reptiles Press; II. Administrative files and press history; III. Artwork; and IV. Prints and publications by other presses. Series I. comprises materials contributing toward the publication of several Sombre Reptiles Press works and includes manuscripts, artwork, proofs, dummies, layouts, and paste-ups, in addition to the published books, which have been removed for cataloging in Special Collections.

Series II. contains items pertaining to the background and business operations of the press, such as correspondence, particularly with authors, awards, and journals in which the press’s authors or owners have been featured.

Series III. features artwork by Mary Ann Hayden not included in the collection’s represented publications, including color prints, broadsides, and an etching. Also included in this series is artwork given to Hayden.

Series IV. comprises items and projects not directly related to the work of Sombre Reptiles, and includes items given to Ratch and Hayden, as well as side design projects of Hayden’s.

Many of the printed works included with the collection have been removed for cataloging with imprints in Special Collections. Sombe Reptiles works are searchable via DELCAT's Advanced Search by searching "Sombre Reptiles Press" in the Publisher or Note field.

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
  2. Removals shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (32 inches)

Purchase, May 2007.

Processed and encoded by Maureen Cech, May 2007; March 2011.

Many of the printed works included with the collection have been removed for cataloging with imprints in Special Collections and are searchable via DELCAT.

Publisher
University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library, https://library.udel.edu/static/purl.php?askspec

Collection Inventory

Scope and Contents

Comprises materials contributing toward the publication of several Sombre Reptiles Press works and includes manuscripts, artwork, proofs, dummies, layouts, and paste-ups, in addition to the published books, which have been removed for cataloging in Special Collections.

Crabsby Darrell Gray, 1978.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Written under the pen name Stanley Bummer. Items include copy of booklet signed by Gray, page proofs, and layout materials See also broadside of

Crabs in F20.

3 items

NoUse NoUseby Mary Ann Hayden, 1978.
Box 1 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Paste-up and six colored pencil sketches by Hayden of illustrations used in the book.

7 items

Ruby Port: Food Poems by Phillipe Mignon. Translated by Darrell Gray, 1979.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Photocopy of layout with pencil corrections and accompanying envelope. Includes typescript (2 pages): one poem titled "When the Worm Looks Up" re-titled "How to Spell" and one prose piece titled "Why I Think Metaphor Stinks" by Anton Plumly.

3 items

Roseby Jerry Ratch, 1979.
Box 1 Folder F4
Scope and Contents

Signed, unbound copy of booklet. Copy #47 of 47.

1 item

Chaucer Marginaliaby Jerry Ratch, 1979.
Box 1 Folder F5
Scope and Contents

Unbound copy of limited edition in soft wrappers.

1 item

Book of Gesturesby Jerry Estrin, 1980.
Box 1 Folder F6
Scope and Contents

Two typescript manuscripts, one with corrections; see also F25 Correspondence (2) for letter relating to

Book of Gestures .

2 items

4 items

Typescript manuscript, circa 1979-1980.
Box 1 Folder F7
Scope and Contents

Includes some corrections and notes.

Letter from Moriarity to Hayden and Jerry Ratch, 1979.
Box 1 Folder F7
"Variations on a set of lines #1", undated.
Box 1 Folder F7
Scope and Contents

Artist’s proof 2 of 4; numbered 1 of 80. Signed by Hayden.

"Variations on a set of lines #2", undated.
Box 1 Folder F7
Scope and Contents

Artist’s proof 1 of 6; numbered 1 of 80. Signed by Hayden.

Typescripts, undated.
Box 1 Folder F8
Scope and Contents

Two typescript manuscripts, one heavily corrected. Also includes mock-up of title page.

2 items

Photographs, undated.
Box 1 Folder F9

6 items

Proofs (1 of 2), undated.
Box 1 Folder F10
Scope and Contents

Two sets of typescript proofs documenting extensive revisions made to the text.

Proofs (2 of 2), undated.
Box 1 Folder F11
Scope and Contents

Each copy of

Kill Jim "contains individual sheets of paper handmade by Donald Farnsworth [and] a collage by Mary Ann Hayden." Book of prose poetry, homage to detective fiction.
Proofs and galley proofs, undated.
Box 1 Folder F12
Scope and Contents

Includes a set of proofs that may be an early version of

Kill Jim .

3 items

Paste-up, undated.
Box 1 Folder F13
Dummy, undated.
Box 1 Folder F14
Scope and Contents

Includes tipped in collage by Hayden.

Artwork, undated.
Box 1 Folder F15
Scope and Contents

Three collages featuring artwork from

Kill Jim and copies of the book's prospectus.

3 items

3 items

Typescript manuscripts and letter, circa 1981.
Box 1 Folder F16
Scope and Contents

Typescript manuscripts of the poem with corrections signed and dated by Daughtry, January 20, 1981; also includes typed letter to Mary Ann Hayden regarding the note that appears on the broadside concerning the poem’s Celtic dialect.

Poetry broadside, circa 1981.
Box 1 Folder F16
Scope and Contents

Signed and dated by Daughtry. "One hundred copies designed & printed at Sombre Reptiles Press, Berkeley 1981. The language is Geordie, and Anglisc dialect spoken in Newcastle and much of Northumbria. The last dragon was reported seen at Jarrow Flats, Northumberland, near the poet’s birthplace, circa the eleventh century."

2 copies

Celebrities: Margaret Dumont, Dowager of the Marx Brothers Movies [1890-1965]by Robert Peters, 1981.
Box 1 Folder F17
Scope and Contents

Correspondence with Robert Peters, which includes typescript manuscripts with corrections of "Marlene Dietrich" and a first draft of "Afloat with Robert Mitchum." Also included is a typescript of "Gertrude Stein."

Slides and Chinese papercuts.
Box 1 Folder F18
Scope and Contents

Slides of various illustrations of Mao Zedong ; set of four Chinese papercuts used for the printing of the illustrations in the book

5 items

Dummy.
Box 1 Folder F19
Scope and Contents

Various poetry broadsides by Ratch and others. Some of the works by Ratch were printed at other presses as noted.

8 items

"Angel, 1508", 1976.
Box 1 Folder F20
Scope and Contents

Printed by the Brown Dog Press. Accompanying handwritten note reads: "We used ‘Brown Dog’ briefly, but only made this piece. We didn’t have a press at the time."

"Hot Weather", 1978.
Box 1 Folder F20
Scope and Contents

Attributed to Jerry Ratch as "Ratchland." Printed at the Poltroon Press.

Crabsby Darrell Gray, 1978.
Box 1 Folder F20
"From Lenin's Paintings", 1979.
Box 1 Folder F20
Scope and Contents

"Four hundred copies were produced by Cloud Marauder/Sombre Reptiles in August 1979...Graphic and text from the book of the same title, to appear in 1980."

"Helen" by Jerry Ratch, 1979.
Box 1 Folder F20
"Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold, 1979.
Box 1 Folder F20

(3 copies)

"The Art of Dodging" by JoAnn Ugolini, 1980.
Box 1 Folder F20

(2 copies)

"Sonnet 97" by Jerry Ratch, 1984.
Box 1 Folder F20
Scope and Contents

"From The Fall and Winter Sonnets by Jerry Ratch. Fifty copies designed & printed at Sombre Reptiles for Christmas, December nineteen hundred eighty four." Signed by Ratch and Mary Ann Hayden.

Print jobs (1 of 2), undated.
Box 1 Folder F21
Scope and Contents

Includes a variety of prints, including business cards, greeting cards, prospectuses, and reading announcements

Print jobs (2 of 2), undated.
Box 1 Folder F22
Paper samples, undated.
Box 1 Folder F23
Scope and Contents

Japanese paper used in several of the Press's publications.

1 item

Scope and Contents

Contains items pertaining to the background and business operations of the press, such as correspondence, particularly with authors, awards, and journals in which the press’s authors or owners have been featured.

Correspondence (1 of 2), circa 1980-1988.
Box 1 Folder F24
Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence with authors Michael Wolfe regarding his book

In Morocco , Kathleen Fraser concerning the 1982 publication Women Writing Poetry in America: Poetry Broadsides by California Women Printers , and Jerry Estrin, in addition to general correspondence. Other press business includes finances, orders, notices for readings, postcards, and exhibition information.
Correspondence (2 of 2), 1978-1994.
Box 1 Folder F25
Available Titles and Press bibliography (1979-1981), 1979-1981.
Box 1 Folder F26
Scope and Contents

Includes three copies of the bibliography of Sombre Reptiles the Press printed; includes works 1979-1981. Also includes list of available titles as well as a tear sheet of a listing for Ratch’s Chaucer Marginalia, since the bibliography and the available titles listing for 1980

2 items, multiple copies

Journals, 1983, 1991.
Box 1 Folder F27
Scope and Contents

Copies of the journal of the August, 1983, Pacific Center of the Book Arts, featuring a contribution from Mary Ann Hayden and a 1991 issue of Abacus, featuring the work of poet Kathleen Fraser, who collaborated with Hayden for the 1982 publication Women Writing Poetry in America: Poetry Broadsides by California Women Printers and with whom Hayden also collaborated for the 1992 From a text. Included with the issue of Abacus are two handwritten Post-It notes from Fraser to Hayden, dated 1993.

2 items

Awards, 1981.
Box 1 Folder F28
Scope and Contents

Two certificates from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. One certificate is an award from the AIGA Book Show of 1981 acknowledging Kill Jim, and the other is presented to Hayden by AIGA.

2 items

Scope and Contents

Features artwork by Mary Ann Hayden not included in the collection’s represented publications, including color prints, broadsides, and an etching. Also included in this series is artwork given to Hayden.

2 items

Untitled print, 1977.
Box 1 Folder F29
Scope and Contents

Features the Poltroon Press Imprint, dated 1977. Signed by Hayden and numbered 12 of 30.

Untitled print, undated.
Box 1 Folder F29
Scope and Contents

Features a grid design similar to the Poltroon Press print, though there is no indication that the two prints are linked.

Scope and Contents

Series of three color prints with accompanying text. The prints feature stylistic elements that seem to be characteristic of Sombre Reptiles, horizontal lines resembling blocked-out text, and horizontal numbers, particularly the numeral "2." All three prints are signed and dated by Hayden, two of which include the Sombre Reptiles Press imprint.

3 items

"deliberately/empty...lie/the heart...", 1981.
Box 1 Folder F29
Scope and Contents

Numbered 9 of 15; bears Sombre Reptiles Press imprint

"is true he’s/proud/of/that/he’s/a/little/Mural", 1981.
Box 1 Folder F29
Scope and Contents

Artist’s proof 3 of 4

"the/Red/leaf//its/shadow/sign/of/the Pear", 1981.
Box 1 Folder F29
Scope and Contents

Numbered 14 of 15; bears Sombre Reptiles Press imprint

Etching, 1982.
Box 1 Folder F29
Scope and Contents

Titled "After Blood Wedding #1";signed and dated by Hayden; numbered 5 of 13

1 item

Scope and Contents

Text is backwards. Inscribed "For Mary Anne...from" signature unclear. The rest of the text reads: "Utility is one aspect (only one:"

2 items

Blue color print, undated.
Box 1 Folder F30
Color print/pencil sketch, 1978.
Box 1 Folder F30
Scope and Contents

Text reads: "Mata Hari/at work...on yr birthday." Inscribed "For Mary Ann Sept 78." Signature unclear

Scope and Contents

Comprises items and projects not directly related to the work of Sombre Reptiles, and includes items given to Ratch and Hayden, as well as side design projects of Hayden’s.

2 items

Puberty Rites for Brooke, 1978.
Box 1 Folder F31
Scope and Contents

Dummy with corrections. Inscribed to Jerry Ratch and Mary Ann Hayden. Signed and dated by Johnston, February 7, 1978

"Prose take, Monday, 13 April 1959" by Philip Whalen, 1977.
Box 1 Folder F31
Scope and Contents

Inscribed to Jerry Ratch and signed by Johnston. Printed by the Poltroon Press, 1977.

Silent Musicby Stephen Ratcliffe, 1980.
Box 1 Folder F32
Scope and Contents

Photocopy of typescript manuscript and a signed letter from Ratcliffe to Hayden.

2 items

Love Poems for Robert Mitchumby Robert Peters, 1981.
Box 1 Folder F33
Scope and Contents

Photocopied typescript with some corrections. Published by the Poet-Skin Press. Signed and dated by Peters. Inscribed to Ratch and Hayden: "For Jerry [and] Mary Ann--I put this together as a New Years' greeting--Love to all up there/Bob Peters."

1 item

(As) on things which (headpiece) touches the Moslemby Gail Sher, 1982.
Box 1 Folder F34
Scope and Contents

Page proofs. Book published by Intersection, printed at Twowindows Press. Designed by Mary Ann Hayden.

2 items

Print, Suggest