The King Library Press 

The King Library Press has had a profound effect on the participants in "Verse in Type,” all of whom had an affiliation with the Press, including most as apprentices.  This is evident in their printed work, including in typeface, ink color, and design.  Started by a group of librarians in 1956, the Press has grown to play an integral role at the University of Kentucky and for aspiring printers.  Carolyn Hammer, a founding member and director of the King Library Press until 1976, and her husband Victor Hammer, an artist and typographer, had a lasting impact on the aesthetics of the Press.  Victor mastered traditional printing techniques in both Vienna and Florence, which he in turn shared with the King Library Press. 

Victor Hammer developed American Uncial to serve as a universal type, which would compliment all languages.  The type minimized the lengths of both the ascenders and descenders, creating a line where the words to appear as “a string of pearls” on the page.    He cut two other types Samson and Pindar, the latter being left in Vienna.  The Andromaque typeface is a cursive Uncial which is used by the Press for captions, as it is lighter and based on Greek letters.  Victor was satisfied with the American Uncial, feeling it achieved the universality he desired.  It is the typeface most often associated with the Press.

The use of red ink is found in many of the King Library Press’ work.  Victor based the russet red ink on a long-standing tradition dating to its fifteenth century use in calligraphy, headings, directions and initial letters.  The tradition carried on in printing and continues to be in use at the King Library Press.   Rather than a decoration or afterthought, the red ink acts as a harmonizing element, giving unity to the page. 

A well designed page is fundamental to the art of printing, but it is a difficult skill to teach.  Years of experience are generally required to navigate the technical and aesthetic challenges facing the printer.  The King Library Press is renowned for cultivating this skill in its printers and apprentices through a culture of passionate celebration of the printed page.

From the beginning the King Library Press has been dedicated to the art of fine printing and sharing that knowledge with future printers.  Through the influence of Carolyn and Victor Hammer, the Press has always valued poetry, forming lasting relationships with Kentucky poets and printing their works.   The King Library Press continues to foster new printers, instilling them with a love of both fine printing and poetry.  Former apprentices describe their time at the Press as invaluable.