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.
- Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
- 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.
- Ratch, Jerry
- Hayden, Mary Ann
- Cushman, Don
- Estrin, Jerry
- Gray, Darrell, 1945-
- Johnston, Alastair, 1950-
- Wolfe, Michael, 1945-
- 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
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.
Written under the pen name Stanley Bummer. Items include copy of booklet signed by Gray, page proofs, and layout materials See also broadside ofCrabs in F20.
Paste-up and six colored pencil sketches by Hayden of illustrations used in the book.
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.
Signed, unbound copy of booklet. Copy #47 of 47.
Unbound copy of limited edition in soft wrappers.
Two typescript manuscripts, one with corrections; see also F25 Correspondence (2) for letter relating toBook of Gestures .
Includes some corrections and notes.
Artist’s proof 2 of 4; numbered 1 of 80. Signed by Hayden.
Artist’s proof 1 of 6; numbered 1 of 80. Signed by Hayden.
Two typescript manuscripts, one heavily corrected. Also includes mock-up of title page.
Two sets of typescript proofs documenting extensive revisions made to the text.
Each copy ofKill 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.
Includes a set of proofs that may be an early version ofKill Jim .
Includes tipped in collage by Hayden.
Three collages featuring artwork fromKill Jim and copies of the book's prospectus.
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.
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."
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 of various illustrations of Mao Zedong ; set of four Chinese papercuts used for the printing of the illustrations in the book
Various poetry broadsides by Ratch and others. Some of the works by Ratch were printed at other presses as noted.
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."
Attributed to Jerry Ratch as "Ratchland." Printed at the Poltroon Press.
"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."
"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.
Includes a variety of prints, including business cards, greeting cards, prospectuses, and reading announcements
Japanese paper used in several of the Press's publications.
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.
Includes correspondence with authors Michael Wolfe regarding his bookIn 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Features the Poltroon Press Imprint, dated 1977. Signed by Hayden and numbered 12 of 30.
Features a grid design similar to the Poltroon Press print, though there is no indication that the two prints are linked.
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.
Numbered 9 of 15; bears Sombre Reptiles Press imprint
Artist’s proof 3 of 4
Numbered 14 of 15; bears Sombre Reptiles Press imprint
Titled "After Blood Wedding #1";signed and dated by Hayden; numbered 5 of 13
Text is backwards. Inscribed "For Mary Anne...from" signature unclear. The rest of the text reads: "Utility is one aspect (only one:"
Text reads: "Mata Hari/at work...on yr birthday." Inscribed "For Mary Ann Sept 78." Signature unclear
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.
Dummy with corrections. Inscribed to Jerry Ratch and Mary Ann Hayden. Signed and dated by Johnston, February 7, 1978
Inscribed to Jerry Ratch and signed by Johnston. Printed by the Poltroon Press, 1977.
Photocopy of typescript manuscript and a signed letter from Ratcliffe to Hayden.
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."
Page proofs. Book published by Intersection, printed at Twowindows Press. Designed by Mary Ann Hayden.