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Preserving the Art & Craft of Letterpress Printing

Press release from the issuing company

New Life for Notable Collection of Antique Type

Kent, WA – Pacific Lutheran University, with a little help from The University of Puget Sound, is resuscitating the Thorniley Collection of Antique Type, a Northwest graphic arts community treasure, thanks to its donation to the two universities by WCP Solutions.

The Thorniley Collection is one of the largest private collections of pre-1900 type in the United States. It features 64 wood and over 1,000 metal fonts (variations of the alphabet by size and style), eight presses, reference books, and many associated tools dating from as early as the revolutionary war.

“When we began to look for a new home for the Collection, we had four objectives in mind: keep it in the Pacific Northwest, keep it intact, preserve it for future generations, and place it in the hands of experts who would convert it from a mostly hands-off ‘museum’ into a working and teaching treasure,” said Teresa Russell, Chairperson for WCP Solutions. “I am thrilled to be achieving these four objectives and to be putting the collection into very enthusiastic and capable hands.”

WCP purchased the core of the collection from William “Bill” Thorniley in 1975. Thorniley had been collecting type since his birthday in 1909 when he turned ten. After considering a sale to the Smithsonian, Thorniley realized that he would rather see the collection stay in the Northwest. This thought was shared by his friend, Dick Abrams, then Chairman of WCP. Abrams named John DeNure as curator and WCP purchased Thorniley’s life work of collecting. Over the course of the next several decades, WCP expanded and rounded-out the collection through direct investments and with items from over 60 donors.

The type ranges from the oldest in the collection, Union Pearl cast in 1690, to one used to print Gold Rush papers in Alaska, to Antique Pointed which was once hidden from Sherman’s troops during the Civil War. The type collection also includes many borders, ornaments, and etchings.

“Carl Montford, a local wood engraver and proprietor of the private Montford Press, was a tremendous help. His passion for the collection and for placing it at an academic institution ignited efforts at Pacific Lutheran and at Puget Sound to find space large enough to hold the collection,” according to Russell. “Happily, those efforts paid off.” On January 24th and 25th, the bulk of the collection was moved into The School of Arts + Communication in Ingram Hall at Pacific Lutheran University and a few pieces were moved into the Collins Memorial Library at The University of Puget Sound.

Events and opportunities for staff, students, and the public to view and work with the collection are being planned by Pacific Lutheran University and will be announced in spring 2017.



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