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Getting the lead out

Retirement from a 37-year career in publishing gave Kay Michael Kramer ’61 (printing management) more time to devote to his lifelong passion – printing history.

Kramer began acquiring vintage printing equipment and types in the 1960s, not long after joining The C.V. Mosby Co., the St. Louis-based publisher of medical, nursing, and college text and reference titles. Today, the basement of his Kirkwood, Mo., home holds two presses: a Vandercook SP15 and an 1840 Albion handpress. These are the heart of The Printery, his highly regarded private press.

Kramer began producing fine printed pieces during his college days. Under RIT’s former student imprint, The Press of the Good Mountain, Kramer created Christmas greetings and booklets. Those annual holiday productions have continued, along with limited edition books and keepsakes.

Each is a work of art and a labor of love. The projects involve a concept and design, selecting or creating appropriate artwork, finding special papers and binding materials, setting the type, printing the pages, and binding them – all by hand.

“You have to be interested in the subject matter of a project because it’s a very labor-intensive process,” notes Kramer.

Last year, The Printery published the text of a 1970 talk by the late RIT professor Alexander S. Lawson. Printers’ Manuals: from Moxon to the PIA traces the history of English-language printers’ manuals from 1683 to 1953. Kramer printed 100 copies of the 64-page monograph. The 10 leather-bound copies are no longer available; most of the 90 clothbound copies, at $175 each, also are sold. As with his other publications, many copies found homes in libraries. RIT’s Melbert B. Cary Jr. Graphic Arts Collection is home to one.

“We’ve received a very positive response to it,” says Kramer. “Alex was known worldwide.”

To learn more about Printery products, contact Kramer at (314) 821-1465 or send e-mail to theprinterybooks@earthlink.net.