The King Library Press is located in the Basement of the Special Collections Research Center, and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from morning to early afternoon.
All UK students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to experience the storied history of the Press and the fine craftsmanship of its products.
Our equipment embodies the fine printing tradition that we carry on at the press. Our hand-made books are produced on:
We also have equipment and materials for binding, illustrating, and decorating books.
Learn more about KLP Apprenticeship & Volunteer Opportunities, or email KLP director Paul Holbrook at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
The King Library Press is located in the Basement of the Special Collections Research Center.
Dr. Paul Evans Holbrook has been Director of the King Library Press since 1988. He apprenticed under Carolyn Reading Hammer, the founder of the Press, in the 1970s.
He holds Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees from Harvard Divinity School, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from UK, where he taught philosophy, ethics, and comparative religion for 25 years. He also taught Ethics at Midway College (now University).
Dr. Holbrook has five decades of experience in letterpress printing, typography, book binding, and other facets of the book arts, and carries forward the tradition of fine printing that has long been alive in Lexington.
Dr. Paul Holbrook has been director of the King Library Press since 1988.
Hand presses are rare to come by, and expensive when they can be found, especially since so many of them were used for scrap iron during World War II. The King Library Press has a wonderful collection of such presses, some pushing a century old. One press has traveled across the ocean, while others, more modern, printed books in rural Kentucky or newspapers in Harrodsburg. Whether ancient or modern, hailing from near or far, each of our hand-operated presses tells a unique story, and perpetuates the craft of letterpress printing in its own fashion.
Victor Hammer, a Viennese artist, sculptor, printer, type crafter, and architect, emigrated to the United States in 1939. After moving to Lexington in 1948, he began teaching at Transylvania University, and married Carolyn Reading Hammer, who founded the King Library Press in 1956. Victor Hammer established his press, the Stamperia del Santuccio, in Florence, and was one of the few great 20th-century practitioners of hand-cutting type, developing several notable typefaces, including his most well-known type, the American Uncial.
In 1927, while living in Florence, Hammer built a common wooden press, modeled after an early 19th century press called the Ramondi Press in the Laurentian Library. Hammer and a craftsman named Ezio Pratesi, along with a couple assistants, constructed the press using parts of an old oak wine press. The steel spindle was turned by another craftsman on his lathe. It was given to UK in 1958 by friends of Hammer and first used by the King Library Press in 1959.
Joseph C. Graves, a friend of the Hammers, established the Gravesend Press at his home north of Lexington in 1949. Graves printed books, Christmas cards, advertisements for his gentlemen’s clothing firm, Graves, Cox & Co., and other ephemera, often illustrating and hand-coloring his productions. When he died unexpectedly in 1960, Graves had finished setting the type for a small book about the Old Episcopal Burying Ground on Third Street in Lexington, which was completed by R. Hunter Middleton in 1967. A second edition was printed by the King Library Press in 2000.
Through a bequest of Lucy Graves, Graves’ fine printing library is now held by the Special Collections Research Center, and the early 20th-century iron hand press that he used as the Gravesend Press is now in use by the KLP.
KLP founder Carolyn Reading Hammer operating a Chandler & Price press.
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