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River Series Lectures

Baute is featured guest speaker
in new OCHS lecture series

Audience will be able to make
keepsakes at upcoming event

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

WESTPORT, Ky. (August 2009) – Even though it is more time consuming, Nick Baute prefers the technique of 19th century letterpress making to the more modern computerized, graphic artist-enhanced style. Baute hand crafts each piece of letterpress he creates using 19th century equipment, endowing it with a personal touch.
While he admits his way takes longer, the benefits outweigh the time spent to produce a product. Baute believes that if he takes time to do it the right way, the old fashioned way, customers will be pleased with the results.

Upcoming Speakers

Nick Baute

Nick Baute

• Aug. 6: Nick Baute of Hound Dog Press demonstrates the art form of 19th century press and its importance for communication in the past.
• Sept. 16: Oldham County resident Bill Samuels of Maker’s Mark Bourbon will share family history and traditions that have surrounded the bourbon industry.  The history center will display some of the unique and rare whiskey jugs from the Chilton Barnett Collection.
• Oct. 15: James Claypool is a Kentucky Humanities Council speaker and will speak about “Kentucky Blue: The Story of Bluegrass Music.” He will play some of the classic tunes and look at the careers of pioneers like the Monroes as well as such current greats as Ricky Skaggs and Rhonda Vincent. 
• All lectures start at 6 p.m. with cocktails. The lecture is followed by a dinner prepared by Westport General Store. Cost is $18 for History Center members and $20 for non-members. Call (502) 222-0826 to reserve.

Letterpress is a type of printing in which ink is applied to type face, wood blocks or a raised surface, and then transferred to paper using pressure. Attention to detail makes Baute’s work part of a higher end niche market.
“Because letterpress printing is a lost trade, it has become an art form,” said Baute.
He will be part of a new lecture series, The River Series, offered through the Oldham County History Center. The River Series will include such topics as the 19th century press, whiskey and music, all vital aspects of Oldham County’s development. This new series was created in recognition of the Oldham County Historical Society’s 50th anniversary, in an effort to continue that long tradition of history.
“I put together the River Series because all the lectures are happening down at the Westport General Store, near the river and where our county was founded,” said Nancy Theiss, executive director of the Oldham County History Center. If successful, the series will be offered again in the future.
“I chose the speakers because they had interesting ties to our history,” Theiss said. Westport resident Nick Baute will lead the first lecture on Thursday, Aug. 6, at the Westport General Store. He will have a 1920s Craftsman table-top press on display from which lecture participants will be able to make a keepsake.
Baute and business partner Robert Ronk own and operate Hound Dog Press, a full service letterpress shop located in the Mellwood Arts Center at 1860 Mellwood Ave. in Louisville. The company specializes in custom invitations, announcements, greeting cards, stationery and posters, all designed, set and pressed by hand. The only modernized piece of equipment they use is a 1970s polymer plate maker and computer graphics if needed.

Craftsman Superior Level Press

Photo provided

Nick Baute will be demonstrating
printing techniques with this
Craftsman Superior Level Press,
circa 1930, at the August
River Series Lecture.

Baute and Ronk met at the University of Kentucky, where both earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking. Baute moved to New York after graduating. There, he was employed at the renowned Bowne & Co. Stationers, a unique 19th century letterpress shop.
“I will be speaking essentially about the history of letterpress printing,” said Baute. He plans to cover its early beginnings from the invention of the printing press in Germany in 1440 by Johan Guttenberg, up to modern day printing techniques.
“The printing press was the most important invention in human history,” said Baute, because up until that time, all books were hand-written.
“The 19th century press materials he produces is both an art form and a tribute to the importance of hand press in our history,” said Theiss. A new exhibit, “Primary Docs: The Museum Collection,” will be on display at the Oldham County History Center from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 and will tie in well to the type of press Baute will demonstrate, said Theiss. She plans to have some of the History Center’s 19th century documents on display for this program.
The second lecture program will feature Oldham County resident Bill Samuels, a descendant of the of Maker’s Mark bourbon company. The Prospect, Ky., resident is scheduled to appear on Wednesday, Sept. 16.
“He is a strong supporter of historic preservation and will talk about community and preservation and his company,” said Theiss. For this lecture she will provide whiskey jugs from the History Center’s extensive collection.
The lecture series will wrap up on Thursday, Oct. 15, with James C. Claypool, an author and member of the Kentucky Humanities Council’s speaker bureau, who will discuss “Kentucky Blue: The Story of Bluegrass Music.”
“I liked the idea of having him speak about bluegrass music, and Westport was quite a haven for country hoedowns, concerts and barn dances many years ago,” said Theiss.

• All lectures begin at 6 p.m. with cocktails, followed by the lecture and dinner prepared by the Westport General Store. Cost is $18 for Oldham County History Center members, $20 for non-members. For more information or to make reservations, contact the History Center at (502) 222-0826.

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