In mid-March I had a fabulous visit to the Thornwillow Press in Newburgh, New York. This incredible facility, owned by Luke Pontifell and his lovely Swiss wife, Savine, is tucked away on a side street in several non descript brick buildings.  However, once inside the door (a little hard to find), one is immediately confronted with an extraordinary  array of printing equipment most of which is more than 50 years old and none of it digital.

I asked Luke if he would write a brief history of his interesting company.  Here are his words:

Thornwillow Press: Celebrate the Written Word

Thornwillow Press is a printer and publisher of handmade limited edition books, custom book binder, maker of engraved correspondence papers, invitations, announcements and library accessories. Everything we do is made by a team of incredibly skilled craftspeople in a complex of 19th century factory buildings along the Hudson River in Newburgh, NY.

Now celebrating its 30th year, I founded Thornwillow when I was 16 and still in high school. Over the years, the press has printed and published original books by some of the most distinguished writers, artists, poets, and historians including John Updike, James Merrill, Walter Cronkite, Edmund Morris,  William Wegman, and David Mamet among many others. These books are collectors items. They are letterpress printed on fine paper, hand bound in leather and numbered and signed by the authors. They are in the permanent collection of distinguished archives and libraries including The Morgan Library, The British Museum, The Bibliotheque National, The Vatican, The Smithsonian, and The White House just to name a few.

In addition to the books that Thornwillow publishes, the company also makes the most beautiful engraved and letterpress printed stationery… invitations, business cards, custom journals and notebooks, announcements, calendars… the range of our work is as broad as it is interesting.

In the interest of pursuing the related crafts of the written word, I have amassed an enormous collection of vintage specialty equipment: presses, die stamping machines, envelope making machines, folding and sewing machines, gilding tools. To walk through the press is like walking through a living museum where not only is everything being used, but there are also remarkably skilled people who know how to use these tools.

In this age of disposable and intangible communications, when you literally turn your books on and off with a switch, delete your correspondence, and keep your memories in a cloud, Thornwillow is committed to making things that last.

That being said, I do not rail against technology. Rather the company embraces it. In fact, our newest collection of products called Identity Papers bridge their world of craftsmanship with the convenience of the internet age. The collection includes correspondence cards, notebooks, and the most novel miniature business/calling cards all of which can be designed on our website using Thornwillow’s online design templates. What you design at home using these wonderful tools is then crafted at the press and sent to you within 10 days.

Because of our special friendship, Thornwillow is offering the readers of The Perfect Bath a special discount coupon to share with your  friends that will discount a set of Identity Cards [] from $135 to a special price of just $99. We are really proud of our new launch and eager to get people to try the new cards. The coupon for special pricing is Water99 and is good until April 30th. Visit our website to see the wide range of Thornwillow’s work and take a virtual tour of the press here []


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