This is a collaborative project between the New Mexico History Museum, Skyline Type Foundry, and Swamp Press. Here is the text of an insert furnished with the Collection, as hand-set and letterpress-printed by Tom Leech at the NMHM’s Press at the Palace of the Governors:
Gustave Baumann (1881-1971) was a great 20th century artist and craftsman. Born in Germany and raised in Chicago, at sixteen he apprenticed in an engraving house, and soon established himself as a noted graphic designer. During his Chicago years he was friends with many of the country’s most accomplished graphic artists, among them was Osgood (Oz) Cooper, from whom Baumann undoubtedly learned much about lettering. But Baumann’s commercial art career didn’t last long; in 1910 he relocated to the art colony of Nashville, Indiana, where he began the pursuit of art, expressed mainly through the medium of color woodcut, the artform he mastered and for which he is best known.
Baumann settled in Santa Fe in 1918, where he passed the rest of his days producing a huge body of work. Found in the voluminous archive of his correspondence, ephemera, drawings, and blocks donated to the New Mexico History Museum was a page of “hieroglyphic doodles” titled “Baumann Quad Ornaments.” It also bore many numerical notations clearly indicating typographic calculations. Although undated, these were likely done in the 1920s. Many of the designs relate to Baumann’s study of Southwest Indian pottery, and he carved dozens into inch-square woodblocks. Proofs were pulled from those blocks at the Press at the Palace of the Governors and sent to Ed Rayher at his Swamp Press in Massachusetts. Ed engraved the brass matrices from which these ornaments were cast. Sky Shipley at Skyline Type Foundry in Arizona produced the first casting in December 2020. Almost a century has gone by from when Baumann inked his ideas on paper. May these characters be a reminder of Gustave Baumann’s remarkable legacy.