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October Press specializes in letterpress printing of fine limited edition broadsides, notecards and books.

Deborah Kessler is the proprietor and printer.  The focus of her work is fine writing and illustration. She enjoys working with authors, living with their words, letter by letter, and seeing them come alive on the page to be shared with others. There’s also the calm of setting type, and the rhythm of feeding sheets, one at a time, into the press. This would not be possible without a community of writers and artists who inspire her. She is grateful for those who share her love of language and the written word.

Deborah has been involved with letterpress printing since 1981.  Her first instructors were Gay Reading, Margaret I. King Press (University of Kentucky) and Carolyn Hammer, The Anvil Press, Lexington, Kentucky.  For several years, she apprenticed and worked with Gray Zeitz, Larkspur Press, Monterey, Kentucky. After receiving a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Kentucky, she spent 30 years as a librarian in public, academic and medical libraries.

October Press is located in the Bluegrass Region of  Kentucky. Lexington is an area rich in private press history and tradition. Deborah spends part of each year on Amelia Island, Florida, where she is inspired by natural surroundings.  This is reflected in notecards depicting live oaks draped in Spanish moss, shore birds and sea life.

In addition to private collections, the work of October Press is found in museums, galleries, bookstores and special collections of university libraries.  It has been featured in national and international exhibits.

Printing Process

Letterpress is a 15th century printing technique. Text is set by hand, letter by letter, using metal type.

Type (or illustrated block) is then locked or tightened, into a frame, or “chase”. The chase is placed vertically into the press. Rollers roll up to collect ink from a disk before rolling down over the type to ink it. Only one color can be printed at a time.  Each sheet of paper is placed on the press platen. When the lever is pulled, the metal type is impressed into the paper. Impression can vary from light to heavy. This impression is part of the appeal of a letterpress print, as it adds a tactile feel to luxurious paper. October Press uses the finest handmade and mouldmade papers, often with deckle edges.  The result of this effort is rewarding, as it looks and feels beautiful. This process takes printing back to an era of quality and craftsmanship.

  • Fox, Gabrielle.  Larkspur Press:  Forty Years of Making Letterpress Books in a Rural Kentucky Community, 1974-2014. Gaspereau Press, 2016. (Contributor)
  • Bouldin, Thomas.  Last Fall in Tucson, 2002. (60 copies) Special edition, bound by Gabrielle Fox, in pink goatskin tooled in gold leaf. 2 copies.
  • Clark, Thomas D.  Five Excerpts.  “Printed for friends, associates and admirers of Dr. Thomas D. Clark”.  Workshop at the King Library Press, under the direction of Gay Reading, 1981.
  • Still, James.  River of Earth and Other Poems.  Printed and bound in Gay Reading’s beginning printing class.  University of Kentucky, Fall and Winter of 1982-83. Foreword by Edward F. Pritchard, Jr.
  • Li Po.  Poems by Li Po. The Anvil Press of Carolyn Hammer, 1984.
  • I Knew it Was Wrong But I Did It Anyway:  Confessions of a Moth Murderer.  Wood engravings and limericks from Penland School of Crafts, 2003.

  • Berry, Wendell.  Andy Catlett:  Early Education. Larkspur Press, 2010.
  • Berry, Wendell.  Sabbaths 2002.  Larkspur Press, 2004.
  • Berry, Wendell. Sonata at Payne Hollow: A Play by Wendell Berry.  Larkspur Press, 2001.
  • Hart, Patrick, O.C.S.O.  Israel Journal:  A Trappist Pilgrim in the Holy Land.  Larkspur Press, 2000.
  • House, Silas.  Recruiters. Larkspur Press, 2011.
  • In Memory’s Field: A Kentucky Sampler.  Larkspur Press, 1998.
  • Kendrick, Leatha.   Science in Your Own Back Yard: Poems by Leatha Kendrick, Larkspur Press, 2003.
  • McClanahan, Ed.  Fondelle, or, The Whore With a Heart of Gold:  A Report from The Field. Larkspur Press, 2002.
  • Milward, Burton and Milward, Burton, Jr. Reminiscences of Aunt Betty Hummons. Larkspur Press, 1999.
  • Morehead, Maureen.  The Melancholy Teacher.  Larkspur Press, 2010.
  • Niles, John Jacob and Rena.  Mr. Poof.  Larkspur Press, in progress 2020-21.
  • Sanfield, Steve. In One Year and Out the Other:  Poems at the Turnings. Larkspur Press, 1999.
  • Shane, Leslie.  Rumors of Light.  Larkspur Press, 2015.
  • Taylor, Richard.  Rare Bird:  Sonnets on the Life of John James Audubon. Larkspur Press, 2011.
  • Taylor, Richard.  Stone Eye.  Larkspur Press, 2001.
  • Whitesel, Carolyn.  Moving Gardens. Larkspur Press, 2019.
  • Worley, Jeff.  A Simple Human Motion.  Larkspur Press, 2000.
  • Zeitz, Gray.  No Time Lost in Whetting.  Larkspur Press, 1999.


© October Press Letterpress.