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Seymour, Ralph Fletcher (1876-1966) | Lake Forest College Archives and Special Collections

Name: Seymour, Ralph Fletcher (1876-1966)


Historical Note:

Ralph Fletcher Seymour was an Illinois born artist, printer, and teacher.  From the 1890s to the 1960s he was a significant figure in the Chicago art scene, most notably as a producer, illustrator and publisher of privately printed and also published books.  He also created a number of book plates for Chicago institutions and private collectors.

His early (1890s-1900s) fine printing was part of the Arts & Crafts revival of hand printing and fine book work at a time when the printing industry was making great leaps and advances in scale of distribution and quality of illustration.  This was a major Chicago industry, due to the city's distribution advantages at the heart of the nation and of the rail network.  Seymour's work emphasized the quality of the printing art.

As a teacher he mentored in the 1930s one of Chicago's only women classic book designers, Suzette Morton Hamill (Zurcher Davidson).

Many of his books related to the culture of the upper North Shore and Lake Forest. His 1944-published History of Lake Forest Academy by Edward Arpee captured that 1859-founded school's history just two years before its administration building burned (1946), thus preserving its history.  He printed fellow Ravinia resident Jens Jensen's influential book Siftings in 1937, after Jensen left his local landscape design practice for his folk school The Clearing, at Ellison Bay, Door County, WI. Seymour's books can be searched in the library catalog, under author's name and in quotes in the keyword search option, as well.

Bookplates were a popular sort of small print early in the twentieth century, and Seymour created several for insitutions and private collectors, as well as his beloved Lake Zurich Golf Club: http://collections.lakeforest.edu/items/show/4003.  Those bookplates located in this library are found in the Asmann bookplate collection: https://www.lakeforest.edu/library/archives/indexes/bookplates.php

An active club man, his design work for Chicago's Cliff Dwellers and for the Lake Zurich Golf Club reveals his art and also his social nature.

Sources:

Joyce, Thomas J., "Ralph Fletcher Seymour, Publisher, 1897-1963; Alderbrink Press, 1905-39," Inland Printers: the Fine Press Movement in Chicago, 1920-45.  Introduction by Paul F. Gehl.  Chicago: Caxton Club, 2003, 14-15.

Seymour, Ralph Fletcher.  Some Went This Way: A Forty Year Pilgrimage Among Artists, Bookmen, and Printers.  Chicago: Ralph Fletcher Seymour, 1945.

Sources:

Joyce, Thomas J., "Ralph Fletcher Seymour, Publisher, 1897-1963; Alderbrink Press, 1905-39," Inland Printers: the Fine Press Movement in Chicago, 1920-45.  Introduction by Paul F. Gehl.  Chicago: Caxton Club, 2003, 14-15. 

Seymour, Ralph Fletcher.  Some Went This Way: A Forty Year Pilgrimage Among Artists, Bookmen, and Printers.  Chicago: Ralph Fletcher Seymour, 1945.

Note Author: Arthur H. Miller, Archivist and Librarian for Special Collections, amiller@lakeforest.edu





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