The Palace Press announces a “new” Gustave Baumann book!

A look at the Gustave Baumann book Indian Pottery Old and New

The Press at the Palace of the Governors

announces with great pleasure

A NEW Book by Gustave Baumann

Indian Pottery Old and New

An entry in the December 31,1919 issue of El Palacio magazine reported an exhibit of woodcut prints by Gustave Baumann. On display were pages of what the article called a “wonder book,” Indian Pottery Old and New, said to have been printed in an edition of 50 copies. That showing, and another in Chicago in 1920, were the last times the work was seen in public, and the book was little-known to collectors and admirers of Baumann’s work for nearly a century. Only a few of the fifty copies planned for that 1919 edition were completed, and no more than a dozen are found today in museum, library or private collections. In 1937 Baumann worked on a much-expanded version, and as late as 1950 he still spoke of his intent to bring out a book on Southwestern Indian pottery. So, like the book’s title, we present a book by Gustave Baumann that is both old and new. It is yet another display of the artist’s wit, ever-sharp eye and sure hand.

The block-book style text and fifteen woodcut studies of Indian pottery were carved within a year of Baumann’s arrival in Santa Fe, and we have followed the design of the booklet as he first conceived it. Variations in its black-only format were suggested by changes in his 1937 prototypes, most notably the introduction of brown background blocks carved for all of the pottery groupings. Those blocks, now in the collection of the New Mexico History Museum, are printed here for the first time. Many of the pots, so skillfully rendered, are in the collections of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the School for Advanced Research.

One hundred forty-five copies of the book were printed by Thomas Leech and James Bourland on Baumann’s remaining supply of Arak paper made by the Whitehead and Alliger Company. That a ream of this paper remained at the time of his death in 1971 may indicate that he had been saving the paper for this very project. Handmade paper covers by Thomas Leech include Baumann’s mouse-chewed canvas tool belt (too far gone to restore), New Mexico mica, and recycled paper trimmings from some of Baumann’s other papers.

The 28-page soft cover book measures 6.75 by 8 inches and comes in a hard-cover folder made by Rosalia Galassi. The price of the book is one hundred sixty dollars, which includes  USPS Priority postage.

How to Order in the Time of COVID-19 

If you wish to reserve a copy of this book, please email your request to: 

(For Institutional purchases, contact Thomas Leech at the above address)

However, books will be mailed only upon receipt of check, made out to:

Museum of New Mexico Foundation 

and mailed to:

Palace Press, c/o Thomas Leech

2 Casa Del Oro Loop

Santa Fe, NM 87508 

(This is a museum approved teleworking location)

Please include contact information and an address where the book will be mailed.

Christmas at the Palace Coloring Book

Cover page of the Palace at the Governors coloring book from 1997

In 1997 the Palace Press worked with the artist Peter Aschwanden to create a Christmas at the Palace themed coloring book. Aschwanden adapted images from the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives into coloring pages.

Since everybody is spending so much time at home for this Christmas holiday – and we could not gather for Christmas at the Palace, we hope you and your children will enjoy spending time adding color to your own New Mexico Christmas.

You can download the coloring book to print out and color….or even color on your computer. Enjoy!

The Generosity of Friends

Artist Gustave Baumann created this autumn-toned color wheel in 1930.

Artist Gustave Baumann created this autumn-toned color wheel in 1930.

Not all of Santa’s presents end up underneath someone’s Christmas tree. Quite a few of them landed in our collections.

Generous donors surprised and delighted us with some remarkable year-end gifts. We’re still sorting through the record-keeping details, but here’s a peek at a few donations that will help us better tell the story of New Mexico.

Continue reading

The Paper Chase

TomLeechWithYuccaTom Leech knows his way around beating things to a pulp. But don’t worry. No one’s in bodily danger. Yucca plants, hollyhocks and old rags, however, better beware.

As director of the Palace Press, Leech considers the type of paper he prints on to be as important—sometimes, more important—as the choice of fonts. While he often scouts around to purchase the perfect material, he also whips up his own versions—most recently, with yucca fibers as part of a project for Eric Blinman, director of the state’s Office of Archaeological Studies and an expert on the traditional uses of yucca by Native Americans.

“It’s a good paper-making fiber because it’s extremely strong,” Leech said, “and it’s plentiful. But it’s difficult to process. You always end up with a couple nasty stab wounds, and it’s known for its soapiness.”

The first time he tried it, Leech said, he ended up mimicking an “I Love Lucy” episode in his home studio. “Suds poured out of the beater,” he said.

Now he moves the beater outside and lets the suds fall where they may. Other fibers and additives he’s used include barley straw, hollyhocks, iris leaves, old Levi’s, flax, hospital linens, beer cartons and Bibles. (The last two were for a recent broadside featuring a poem, “Permission,” by Barbara Minton.) This February, when the Museum of Art features Shakespeare’s First Folio, Leech may recycle an edition of Hamlet into paper for yet another project.

“To me, it’s sort of the yin-yang of the art form,” he said. “The two make a more beautiful whole. I don’t consider a printing job until I figure out the paper. When you read, you’re really looking at the paper—the tactile quality, the sound quality sometimes—all that is there, embedded in it.”

Not all pressmen make their own papers, said Leech, who’s also accomplished at creating marbled papers.

“It’s more a passion than a necessity,” he said. “We’re so used to looking at a blank sheet of white paper and not really seeing it. To me, paper is full of all sorts of mysteries and paradoxes. You see it and you don’t see it. It’s precious and it’s expendable. It’s born out of water, and yet water can easily destroy it.”



A Big Award for Our Favorite Printers

4-PalacePress_TomAndJames-2015The Press at the Palace of the Governors will receive the Edgar L. Hewett Award by the New Mexico Association of Museums. The award is made to individuals or organizations whose actions exemplify leadership and service to the New Mexico museum community and for their achievements in the museum field. Past recipients include the New Mexico History Museum (2009), the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (2011), and the Museum of New Mexico Foundation.

The Palace Press, as it’s informally known, was nominated by the general membership, with the final selection by the executive board. The group noted in particular how the Press has preserved the state’s printing traditions and invites visitors “to explore this fascinating facet of New Mexico history.”

In 1969, the museum acquired the contents of the Estancia News-Herald Print Shop and in 1972 gave birth to its own print shop. Facing the courtyard of the centuries-old Palace of the Governors, it welcomes thousands of visitors annually and serves as a vital center for the revival, stimulation, and pursuit of the book arts and frequently sponsors programs of interest to book-lovers. Award-winning, limited-edition books are published on historic presses, and a research library related to the book arts is available to the public during museum hours. It houses permanent exhibits that feature the press that printed the first-ever book of cowboy songs (1908) and a re-creation of the studio of renowned artist-printer Gustave Baumann.

Two people carry out all that work: Curator and Director Thomas Leech (at left in photo), and Printing Specialist James Bourland.

Continue reading

Books on Books, Their Craft and Beauty

5x7_DSC_0206If you’re like most people, walking into the Palace Press causes a bit of bedazzlement. All those old presses, stacks of cases and walls lined with posters, broadsides and fliers. There’s so much eye candy that you might miss one of its best attributes: Its library.

“There were probably around 300 books when I started, and now there must be a thousand,” said Tom Leech, director of the Palace Press. “This collection was inherited from my predecessor, Pam Smith, but has easily doubled in the time I have been here. It’s an extensive collection on graphic arts and the history of the book, including papermaking and typesetting.”

The Palace Press library covers subjects like lettering, papermaking, and typesetting, and features examples of works done in the early days of printing.

“The purpose is to have a research and reference collection. It isn’t a lending library, but if someone wants to come in and peruse, it’s OK,” Leech said. “It seems like lately we’ve gotten donations with real frequency. Recently, 250 small-press pamphlet-type books were donated to us. We get donations simply because people thought the books belonged here. We also try to collect information on what is related to the incoming exhibitions, so we know what we can be producing.”

Leech also has a fascination with the history of printing. “By virtue of our interest in type, we have a book by Dard Hunter Jr., whose father was well-known for his books on papermaking. It has nice, simple explanations of casting type, how he carved and cast it by hand, and it is all printed on paper that was probably even made by his dad.”

Dard Hunter’s interest began in the early 1920s. Since then, there has been a renaissance of creating paper and using it in traditional presses, which feeds into the craft of printing and its significance today. Leech and fellow pressman James Bourland follow that example even today—often after consulting the books on their shelves.

“Simple books are really the most beautiful,” Leech said. “Sometimes the book is about a particular subject, and other times it’s the book itself that is the work of art.”



Pinhole Photo Meets Poet Laureate

Opening April 27, the exhibit Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography took its name from the way light becomes an object of play when set between an object and a pinhole camera. The photos produced take what we think we know of the world and turn it upside-down, backward and more.

It seemed only natural to reach out to Santa Fe Poet Laureate Jon Davis to help us with events during the exhibition’s run. He agreed (see list of events at bottom), but went one better. Using Gregg D. Kemp‘s pinhole photograph, Jane Always Dreaded Flying Home, as his inspiration, Davis wrote a poem that the Palace Press is turning into a broadside.

Director Tom Leech decided to try a new technique, having Kemp’s photograph digitally printed on the paper, then applying Davis’ poem via traditional letterpress. “I’ve never seen this done before,” he said.

Here’s Leech feeding it into the press to apply the poem’s headline:


Studying the typography:


And holding the almost-finished product:


The broadside will be released on the exhibition’s opening day. Copies will sell for around $75.

For Leech, the project held a coincidental quirk: In 1974, he and Kemp owned Virginia Woodworks in Colorado Springs, where they made Appalachian dulcimers. The business didn’t last, but this photography (fittingly, a pinhole image) of the two of them way-back-when survived:


Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography events with Santa Fe Poet Laureate Jon Davis:

Friday, May 30, 6 pm, “Santa Fe Poets 5,” the fifth of six group poetry readings Davis is organizing as part of his tenure. Joining him in the History Museum Auditorium will be Chee Brossy, Joan Logghe, Carol Moldaw, Henry Shukman, and Farren Stanley. Free.

Sunday, June 1, 1 – 4 pm, “The Poetry of Light,” a writing workshop building on inspiration from Poetics of Light images. Open to high schoolers and older, the event is free, but reservations are recommended. Call  476-5096.





Cowboys + O’Keeffe = A Big Win for the Palace Press

4-72PP_TomPrintingThorpCover-1When Tom Leech, director of the Palace Press, used native grama grass to create end papers for his recreation of Jack Thorp’s Songs of the Cowboys, we knew he was onto something special. Now, the University of Texas at El Paso’s Friends of the Library knows it, too. Along with Arlyn Nathan, a book designer and typography instructor at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Leech won UTEP’s 14th Carl Hertzog Award for Excellence in Book Design.

But that was just the start. Leech and J.B. Bryan also won an honorable mention for the design of Margaret Wood’s memoir, O’Keeffe Stories—the first time a single Press reached such heights in one year.

“It is tremendously gratifying that the judges noted the very qualities that we attempted to get into the book,” said Leech, who also picked up a 2013 Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.Arlyn and I are equally thrilled for everyone else who worked on the book. Mark Lee Gardner introduced the book, and Ronald Kil created beautiful illustrations. We also included a compact disc with the songs performed by Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout. My colleague James Bourland assisted with the printing, and Priscilla Spitler did the beautiful binding.”

How fitting is it to win for Songs of the Cowboys? Consider: The Press at the Palace of the Governors was established in 1970, when the museum acquired most of the contents of the Estancia News-Herald print shop, including the platen press that printed Thorp’s original Songs of the Cowboys in 1908. Continue reading

Art and Engineering in the World of Benjamin Franklin

4-72-Lecture_AndyBarron-1What do Benjamin Franklin, a beloved children’s author, a renowned Hollywood director and a Santa Fe paper engineer have in common? Find out at 1 pm on Sunday, January 19, when Andrew Baron talks about his restoration of an 18th-century Maillardet automaton. The mechanical device (at left with Baron) was a key inspiration for Brian Selznick’s Caldecott Award-winning book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which led, in turn, to Martin Scorsese’s 2011 Academy Award-winning movie, Hugo.

Baron’s lecture and a showing of the film are part of the annual commemoration of Benjamin Franklin’s birthday (January 17, 1706) by the Press at the Palace of the Governors. The event, in the History Museum auditorium, is free with admission; Sundays are free to NM residents.

Automata—mechanical marvels that mimic the movements of humans and animals—were all the rage in France during Franklin’s ambassadorship there. One can easily imagine the great inventor, writer, printer and statesman visiting exhibitions populated with mechanical acrobats, musicians, mice, caterpillars, and singing birds. Continue reading