TERRAN WARDEN; Guest Writer; wardentc@plu.edu

During J-Term, Ingram Hall’s Wekell Gallery was transformed into a treasure trove for typesetters, artists and historians alike with the donation of the Thorniley Collection of Antique Type.

Established in 1982, Pacific Lutheran University’s Elliott Press at the Book Arts Lab within Ingram consisted of 300 drawers of type and two printing presses for students – something many universities do not offer.

The Thorniley Collection of Antique Type took three semitrucks to transport and added 42 type cabinets to PLU’s Book Arts Labs with over 1,000 different fonts, as well as five printing presses.

The Thorniley Collection also added historic equipment for bookbinding and a large assortment of unique ornaments. Ornaments are tiny images that can be combined to create patterns and borders as well as to decorate text. Some of PLU students’ favorites include a toad smoking a pipe and a large dental diagram.

“I can’t settle on a favorite typeface as there are just too many amazing choices,” said Resident Artist in Art and Design Jessica Spring. She is associated with the newly expanded Elliott Press collection.

The collection of antique type and equipment originated from Thorniley, who became fascinated with type at age nine when he received a small printing press as a Christmas gift.

As Thorniley traveled in his job, he constantly searched for old type fonts.

This led to Thorniley building a print shop in his basement with type used in the antebellum Southern United States and fonts used during the California Gold Rush.

R.W. Abrams of WCP Solutions purchased the collection in 1975, but it remained in Thorniley’s possession until his death in 1979.

The chairperson of WCP Solutions, Teresa Russell, previously told PLU, “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.”

“Happily, PLU enabled us to achieve all four. I am thrilled to be putting the collection in such capable, enthusiastic hands,” added Russell.

While the Thorniley Collection is still being organized, students have begun to use the collection. “Our Graphic Design 2 class created type specimens, and their first, biggest challenge was even deciding what typeface to choose. It’s a printer’s candy store,” explained Spring.

Anyone interested in viewing the collection is invited to an open house Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017. More information is also available at www.plu.edu/artd ◼︎

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