Book Arts

The Elliott Press: Home of the Thorniley Collection

Founded in 1982, the Elliott Press is a hands-on workshop for students in PLU’s Publishing & Printing Arts (PPA) Program and for others interested in the history and artistry of the printed word.

Students in the Elliott Press focus on traditional typesetting, printing, and bookbinding techniques as they create broadsides, artist books, and ephemera. But with the evolution of technology and aesthetics, some students also choose to use modern graphic design techniques in their work. Work by students at the Press has been exhibited at King’s Books, the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, and the University of Puget Sound.

The Elliott Press is in Ingram Hall, between the graphic design and printmaking studios. The Press features two platen letterpresses from the early 1900s and a Vandercook proof press from 1940 along with a small, portable parlor press, dubbed Baby Elliott. The Press houses more than 300 different cases of type, many intricately carved ornaments, and stamps depicting everything from dental charts to 1920s roadsters.

The Thorniley Collection

In January 2017, Pacific Lutheran University was the benefactor of the Thorniley Collection by WCP Solutions (formerly West Coast Paper). The collection of antique metal and wood type and printing and binding equipment originated with William O. Thorniley (Bill), who from the age of nine, was fascinated by type when he was given a small printing press for Christmas. During his lifetime he traveled extensively in his job, and was constantly on the lookout for old fonts of type. From Alaska to New England, to the deep south where he found type used before the Civil War, to California where he obtained fonts used during the Gold Rush. R.W. (Dick) Abrams, Thorniley’s collection grew. West Coast Paper purchased the collection in 1975, but it remained in Bill Thorniley’s possession until his death in 1979. Dick and Bill both shared a desire to have the collection kept in the Seattle area, serving as an educational resource and honoring the local graphics arts community.

The combined Elliott Press and Thorniley Collection will serve as a tremendous resource for students and the community while tapping into the talents of faculty authors, visiting artists and scholars