People: Ted Baker

January 12, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

It should come to no one's surprise that the owner of Danville Office Equipment has a collection of old office equipment.

Ted Baker's office has so much more. In fact, other collectibles have pushed the old equipment to a display outside his office, and a large collection has been relegated to the second floor.

Just outside the door to his office is an old-fashioned public scale that takes pennies, nickles and dimes. "You weigh less if you put in a dime," he says.

On the other side of the office door is a large but old paper cutter that looks fully functional and dangerous.


Not long ago, he counted and there were more than 75 coffee cups sitting among the memorable photos, small and large gifts from friends in and out of Danville. It sounds cluttered, but the place has a strange sort of order to it that a casual visitor can only marvel and continue looking. There are stacks of baseball caps. Where did he get them all?

"I've never bought a cap," he says.

Just taking in all of the items on the front of his desk would take more time than either the visitor or Baker has. It would seem that just dusting them all could take days. And every one seems to have a story:

* Sitting behind his desk is a puppet of a funny-looking man in an outfit that looks like it came from Germany or one of its European neighbors. Baker's longtime friend George Cunningham brought it home to him from his travels. Cunningham's name comes up several times in discussing items in the office.

* Baker likes to draw while he sits in restaurants waiting for his food, and they are more than just doodles. A coffee cup on his desk is decorated with one of his drawings. It was given to him for his birthday.

* There are framed photographs of Baker, one with some University of Kentucky notables including coach Tubby Smith and former coach Hal Mumme, former basketball players, and actress Ashley Judd. It was taken at a golf outing.

One of the few collectible early office machines still in his office is a Bennett portable typewriter made in 1910. Baker calls it the first laptop. Outside the office are some of his favorite old pieces of office equipment.

His favorite is the Magic Lantern slide projector. The light was provided by a coal oil lantern that gave off such an unpleasant odor when it burned that limes were placed on top to mask the smell. Focusing the black and white slide was done by moving one of the two parts forward or back.

Baker has been with DOE for 38 years and has seen the growth and change of office equipment. "When I started here, we didn't sell electric typewriters," he said. "Very few businesses had calculators; there were adding machines, but not calculators."

On item that catches the eye is a shopping bag in a subtle pastel green that reads:

"Ted Baker" on the top line and London - that's England, not Kentucky - in smaller letters below. A friend brought it to him along with some shirts from one of the stores. There are stores all around Great Britain, in New York City and San Jose in this country, and an Internet site, He recounts a telephone call he made to one of the stores:

The phone rang and the person at the store answered, "Hello, Ted Baker," to which the Danville business owner replied, "Hello, Ted Baker."

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