Author Howard to speak at
Henry County, Ky., event
Howard, Lacier teamed to write
book on Kentucky history
NEW CASTLE, Ky. (May 2015) – When Libby Howard realized there was no comprehensive account of decorative arts from the antebellum period in Kentucky’s history, she decided it was time to do something about it. Along with co-author Genevieve Lacer, she has written a definitive book detailing 50 private collections within the state.
The book project came about in a natural way, since Howard is interested in antique collections and lives in a historic home in Henry County, Ky. The book showcases private collections of artifacts and decorative arts from antebellum Kentucky without revealing the owners’ names.
Howard will present a program for the Henry County Historical Society at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 11, at the Henry County Cooperative Extension Office, located along Hwy. 421 in New Castle. The free program is open to the public, but members are asked to bring a dish because a pot luck dinner is included.
“We’re excited to have her in our area,” said Michele Guthrie, vice president of the Henry County Historical Society. “She has been involved with the historical society and is a past president of the Henry County Historical Society.”
To begin this momentous project, Howard said she “knew a few collectors and was referred to others by them.” The results of three years of research went into her and Lacer’s book, “Collecting Kentucky, 1790-1860.”
It is a 360-page book with 600 illustrations by Lexington, Ky., photographer Bill Roughen. State historian James Klotter wrote the book’s forward. Howard described it as “a giant coffee table book."
Pictured is "Collecting Kentucky", a book by Libby Howard and Genevieve Lacer
Though the names of the collectors are not revealed, the pictures were shot in their homes. Howard, 47, said it was interesting to see how many people might collect items from the same time period or a certain topic but still have so many different items in their collections.
Guthrie said “Collecting Kentucky” is “a very valuable book.” It discusses such collectibles as furniture, art, textiles, long rifles, stoneware and silver. “It’s wonderful for any collector of antiques.”
The Henry County Historical Society organizes several such programs a year in an effort to build up membership. “We need to grow our historical society and change with the times,” said Guthrie.
“Libby received a lot of attention in Henry County when she wrote the book,” she said. The book won the 2014 History Award, an honor presented by the Kentucky Historical Society.
Lacer is a Kentuckian and former elementary school teacher. She has developed, written and implemented numerous classroom history programs.
Lacer has written two previous books, the first about a Swiss artist, “Edward Troye-Painter of Thoroughbred Stories” (2006), and “A Troye Legacy-Animal Painter T.J. Scott” (2010). Along with Howard, she wanted to document Kentucky antiques and explore their history, relationships and the craftsmen behind them.
“Craftsmen journeyed to where the population was,” said Howard. The book tells what happened in Kentucky during the years 1790-1860 and how successful the state became at producing such items.
Howard has worked as an elementary and junior high school guidance counselor and is a former editor for “Kentucky Homes and Garden” magazine. Originally from Iowa, she attended the University of Kentucky, married a Kentuckian and has lived in Henry County for the last 20 years.
Her program will focus on the process of putting the book together. “I put 40,000 miles on my car in one year” traveling statewide to see the collections and gather their stories, she said. Along with beautiful photographs, the book also contains the “history of early Kentucky as told through the decorative arts.”
She said she felt the reader would want stories to go with the pictures. It will appeal to “people interested in history and interested in collecting.” She will bring along copies of the book for the audience to look at “because that is the best way to see what I’m talking about,” she said.
Although she has received a lot of interest in the book, Howard said she has no plans to work on a second edition. “Collecting Kentucky” took three years to assemble.
From Sept. 6 to Nov. 9, 2014, an exhibit was on display at the Headley-Whitney Museum in Lexington showcasing some of the collections about which Howard and Lacer wrote. It featured more than 150 antiques. The pair has also appeared on KET to discuss their book.
Owners of only one collection in the book are identified. Bob and Norma Noe have spent over three decades assembling one of the most impressive collections of early Kentucky antiques, which they have now donated to the Speed Art Museum.
“To become a good collector, you have to refine your eye,” Howard said.
“Collecting Kentucky 1790-1860” can be found locally at The Berry Center in New Castle, Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, the Headley-Whitney Museum in Lexington, Nettie Jarvis Antiques in Bloomfield, Ky., among other locations, and online at www.collectingkentucky.com. Cost is $75 plus sales tax.
• For more information about the Henry County Historical Society event, call Michele Guthrie at (502) 845-9200.
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