In 1985, Luke Ives Pontifall was your average high school overachiever—the kind of guy whose regular classes weren’t enough to keep him busy, so he sought more stimulating after-school activities. Born out of tedium Thornwillow Press is a small publisher that produces finely crafted, handmade, limited-edition books. What began in Pontifall’s parents’ proverbial basement now thrives in Newburgh, NY, a town just across the Hudson from Beacon, home of the Dia.
Down the street from George Washington’s Revolutionary War headquarters in Newburgh, a host of master craftsmen and engravers create custom monograms, ciphers, calling cards, bookplates, logos and coats of arms. Letterpress printers work on 24 antique and modern printing presses—the oldest press dating back to the 1800s—and the bindery still uses historic binding equipment.
Thornwillow is classic every sense of the word, from their approach to the collections they print. Their latest release is “Andrew Jackson: The Hero”, a selection of documents compiled by Wendell Garret, whom you might have seen appraising furniture on “Antiques Roadshow”. Thornwillow publishes plenty of presidential paraphernalia, like Barack Obama’s inaugural address, as well as poetry by James Merrill and short fiction by John Updike. They’ve also produced a $2,495 edition of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and a $13,000 alphabet of William Wegman’s dogs.
New Yorkers don’t have to travel out to Newburgh to browse their titles—they have a location tucked away at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. The Thornwillow outpost blends in with the other reading rooms, and many regulars have been known to pass by several times on their way to get the famous Bloody Marys at the King Cole bar before discovering the offerings within. The Library Gallery at the St. Regis is a cozy 20′ x 20′ room open 24 hours a day. A librarian is available Tuesday – Saturdays and by appointment, but you can drop in any time, night or day, and browse luxe volumes like Fabrice Herrault’s $1,450 “New York City Portfolio” or the $685 copy of “Cinderella”, until you find something you like. Also for sale is a selection of box stationery, books, letter and paper desk accessories and one-of-a-kind antiques in the Cabinet of Curiosities.
The Library Gallery at the St. Regis
2 East 55th Street
New York, NY 10022