March – July 2004

Over the past four decades, Walter Hamady’s The Perishable Press Limited has published fine books of poetry, prose and collaborations by the printer himself, various family members, as well as Paul Blackburn, Robert Creeley, W.S. Merwin, Diane Wakoski, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Toby Olson, and William Stafford. He explains that his press’s name “reflects the human condition which is both perishable and limited.” This spring the University of Iowa Libraries will be holding an exhibit of 4 decades of Walter Hamady’s work at the Perishable Press Limited. The exhibit will highlight a chronology of his work with particular emphasis on the last twenty years, as well as exploration into his use of colophons, portraits, collaboration, and materiality and the work of some of his students.

The Perishable Press Limited, located 5.3 miles southwest of Mount Horeb Wisconsin , has issued 128 volumes since its first book, The Disillusioned Solipsist, in 1964. Hamady’s work offers a wide range content and form and far exceeds the common expectations a reader might have of a book. The visual and material features of his work include handmade papers, maps, rubber stamps, fastening devices, a variety of prints and illustrations, textures, alternative and traditional fine binding styles. His colophons are offered as artistic works in and of themselves. In all of his productions, Hamady achieves an exacting standard of craftsmanship. Regardless of the diverse interplay of materials, graphics, typographics or structural idiosyncrasies, each of The Perishable Press volumes is carefully crafted, beautifully made. The UI Libraries exhibit hopes to highlight both the genuine character of, as well as the level of craftsmanship, in Hamady’s work.

The University of Iowa Special Collections has 104 of the 128 volumes and acquires retrospective volumes as they become available.