In 1956, Carolyn Reading Hammer and several other librarians began descending into the basement of King Library during their lunch hours to print on a Chandler & Price jobbing press which Carolyn Reading Hammer and Amelia Buckley had used at their Bur Press. With the printing of The Marriage of Cock Robin and Jenny Wren, based on an old edition of the children’s story discovered without a date or title page in the "X files," the King Library Press was born.
In the intervening decades, the KLP has produced dozens of books, broadsides, keepsakes, and other ephemera, all by hand, earning a reputation as a premier teaching and bibliographic press renowned for the quality and craftsmanship of its products.
You can learn more about select books and broadsides produced by the Press below.
The Press is driven by its apprentices and volunteers. Find out more about KLP Apprenticeship & Volunteer Opportunities or email KLP Director Paul Holbrook at email@example.com to see how you can get involved carrying on the tradition of fine printing.
Title page to Sonnets for Gerontion, printed by the King Library Press in 2001.
The text used in this broadside is that of an apparently unique sheet in the Alfred Whital Stern Collection in the Library of Congress. Mr. Stern has kindly given his permission for this printing of it and Mr. Frederick R. Goff has provided the copy. The wooden screw press on which this broadside has been printed is a copy of the late sixteenth century Raimondi Press in the Biblioteca Mediceo-Laurenziana, Florence: it was built during the years 1926-1929 by a Florentine craftsman, Ezio Pratesi, working with Victor Hammer who had made the drawings for its construction. The Margaret I. King Library obtained the press in 1958. The present printing is its first use here. Another press, built just previously to this, is owned by the museum at Eltville am Amin, Gutenberg's home in his last years. Gerald M. Stevenson, Jr. set the type and printed these pages in the summer of 1959.
The Margaret I. King Library Press – University of Kentucky, Lexington – 100 copies.
Set in 14 point American Uncial (text all in caps), leaded. Magnani paper. Bound in blue paper folder with title printed on front cover. The Margaret I. King Library Press imprint was used only twice before being shortened to The King Library Press. It has since been proved that the 16th century Raimondi Press was not the model for the wooden press used, but rather a copy of it built in the Napoleonic era, circa 1818.
The first page of Abraham Lincoln's Dedication of the Gettysburg National Military Cemetery, printed at the King Library Press in 1959.
The first King Library Press edition of the Kikkuli Text was designed to evoke the cuneiform tablets of the original, using three-fold narrow sheets set in capital letters. In her review for The Chronicle of the Horse (17 February 1978), Dr. Mary Aiken Littaur suggested that the 'artist's book' was beautiful, but impractical, and that Dr. Probst's notes were more properly an introduction. This second edition is an attempt to heed her suggestions, including line-drawing illustrations depicting the Hittite chariot after the Egyptian bas-relief of the battle of Qadesh, ca. 1294 B.C.E.
In addition to Dr. Probst's introduction is a new forward by Peter Raulwing and Dr. Joachim Marzahn on the problems of translating and interpreting the Hittite text. Dr. Marzahn has also produced the drawing of the opening lines of the cuneiform text. The text has been set in Caslon on photopolymer plates, printed by hand, and sewn in a Japanese binding evoking the cuneiform wedge. David Elbon, Elloree Findley, John Fort, Paul Evans Holbrook, and Christopher Rowe have produced this edition at the King Library Press.
Cover of the second edition of the Kikkuli Text, printed by the King Library Press in 2010.
Ann Colcord made a new translation of Luigi Pirandello's play Ma non è una cosa seria (It's Not Really Serious) and sent a copy to Carolyn Reading Hammer after the holiday season of 1996, hoping the Anvil Press might publish and print it. Carolyn intended Thomas Merton's Four Poems in French (1996) to be the last issue of her press and asked if it could be taken to the King Library Press. Ann agreed and setting the type began in February, 2000. We anticipated completing the printing by 2005, given the date we optimistically printed on the title page.
Because of the limited hours of operation of the King Library Press each week, our twice yearly workshops, and the variety of projects underway at any given time, progress on the Pirandello play has been regretably slow. Numerous apprentices and volunteers worked on the play over the 18 years including Eric VanOsdol, Frank Jones, and Paul Evans Holbrook. Shortly after our publication of the Kikkuli text in 2010 Dave Elbon began devoting his time exclusively to setting and printing It's Not Really Serious. The effort has been tedious because of the very worn state of Victor Hammer's American Uncial type – cast at the Stempel foundry in the 1950s and used both at the Stamperia del Santuccio and The Anvil Press. Auspiciously we have finished printing the text in its centenary year.
Joanne Price executed the three wood engravings for printing and coloring at the King Library Press. Printing was done on Carolyn Hammer's Shniedewend Midget Reliance press. The paper is Iyo glazed.
Marbled cover of It's Not Really Serious, completed by the King Library Press in 2022.
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