TLDR: We are publishing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's six favorite Sherlock stories together for the first time in a letterpress-printed and hand-bound edition. There are four versions. Each volume holds a mystery which, if solved, will award the brilliant detective a priceless volume.
The very best—according to the author.
Which Sherlock Holmes story do you think is best? People have been asking that question since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the detective's creator, first attempted to kill off Holmes in 1893. Some thirty years later, Sir Arthur wrote his final Holmes tales and announced his own choices as part of a highly publicized competition. We are, for the first time ever, publishing his favorite six stories. They are:
- The Speckled Band
- A Scandal in Bohemia
- The Red-Headed League
- The Dancing Men
- The Final Problem
- The Empty House
This book will be a pleasure for any reader, whether a dedicated Sherlockian or a newcomer, a bibliophile or a casual reader—it will hold a commanding place in any library.
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What is a 'fine press' book?
Most folks have never encountered a 'fine edition' book. It's truly something to behold! While most books are mass-produced in factories where machine spit out cheaply-made volumes meant to be discarded after a few reads, a 'fine press' book is made with master craftsmanship, with the finest materials, and with heart.
We start with the layout. While most publishers' first concern is minimizing page count (to reduce printing costs), ours is readability and elegant design. Our books are laid out by our team of master typographers, using specially crafted fonts and centuries-old design techniques based on the golden ratio. We aspire to creating an unrivaled reading experience, to enhance the relationship between the reader and the written word. In this digital age when you can turn a book on and off with a switch, we believe that typography and layout matters.
Then comes the printing. Each page is printed letterpress, a technique dating back to Gutenberg and the first printing presses. The words are literally pressed into the paper on our historic Heidelberg press. Reading a letterpress book is an experience like no other: you feel the text as you run your finger across the page. We use only the finest archival ink and heavy stock. While trade paperbacks yellow and wither away, our books will last far longer than we will. For this reason, Thornwillow books are included among many of the world's great archival collections, including the Smithsonian, the Vatican, and the White House, to name only a few.
And then we bind each volume by hand. The pages are sewn together, and then bound in leather, letterpress paper wrappers, and paste papers, depending on the version. A great deal of time goes into the binding of each book, the quality of which you can feel when you hold one in your hand. If you've never experienced a hand-bound book before, this is an excellent place to start.
Using only the finest materials, and historic techniques. Throughout the entire process, we use only the finest materials, from archival inks to heavy wove paper stock. The presses and techniques we use are historic. In making books in this way, we continue a great tradition which has been passed down for centuries, and which is at the heart of culture.
A world-class introduction.
We were lucky to have Randall Stock, a world-class Sherlockian, write the introduction to the edition. It traces the history of the question, "Which are the greatest Sherlock stories?" and edifies the reader, both old and new, in doing so. It is an introduction not to be missed by any casual fan of Sherlock, but it was also please the academic. Stock has previously presented academic papers on Sherlock at Harvard University, and his expertise has seen over a half-dozen publications met with acclaim.
An epic mystery.
Hidden in the very fibers of each volume is a mystery. The owner of every volume, whether paper-wrapper or full-leather, can solve this mystery using their wits alone, and claim a magnificent prize. We have created a single unique volume of the book—but that's all we'll say about it.
This volume has been placed in repository at the press along with a sealed envelope containing the key. It will remain in reserve until it is claimed by the brilliant detective who first solves the mystery. It cannot be bought for any price. Finally, the mystery is a strict secret concealed from all at Thornwillow Press. None know its key—not the typographer who laid the book out, not the master craftsman who printed, nor indeed the project manager writing this very text—except the publisher, Luke Pontifell. The secret may die with him.
Let us say no more, for the present, lest we let something slip. The starting-point for this mystery will be advertised in the volumes themselves—from there the hunt begins!
Facsimilies: London, circa 1890.
Accompanying each story is a facsimile print of a photograph of London, circa 1890, by the genius photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn. The photographs set the mood, and give the reader a periscope into the very streets that Sherlock walked.
These will be the first facsimile printings of Coburn's photographs in years, and are a breathtaking complement to Conan Doyle's work. Each volume, no matter what tier, will include these archival pigment prints.
The edition will appear in four bindings.
We are offering Sherlock Holmes Hexalogy in four unique bindings: in a paper-wrapper, in cloth, in half-leather, and in twenty-one unique full-leather copies, each uniquely suited to the six stories.
Paper-Wrapper - Starting at $60. Edition size limited to one hundred more than backed.
Half-Cloth - Starting at $120. Edition size limited to one hundred more than backed.
Half-Leather - Starting at $450. Edition size limited to only 200 copies.
Full-Leather - Starting at $1,500. There are six full-leather versions, with each version themed after a story in the collection. (Note: Each volume contains the the whole book, not just the story which it is themed after.) A Scandal In Bohemia, The Speckled Band, and The Red-Headed League have six copies each. The Empty House, The Dancing Men, and The Final Problem have only one copy. Get these while you can!
Each volume is crafted and tooled individually, and includes intricate detail which cannot be captured in the above prototypes.
The Thornwillow Library
With this project, we are continuing a journey we started months ago with The Shakespeare Sonnets. This is the second in a series of classic texts dedicated to the art of bookmaking, to the preservation of important works, and to the ideal that fine books can be accessible.
For centuries, publishing an edition of a work was a steep investment, and so publishers collected subscribers who, together, brought editions to life. We hope to reinvent this model for the twenty-first century.
- Subscribers list. A subscribers list will accompany each volume, which lists the names of everybody who pledged $120 or more to bring the volume to life. It's our way of memorializing your part in the creation of these volumes. It simply couldn't happen without you.
- Title selection. As the library grows, our community of subscribers will help us select upcoming titles. Your suggestions for titles are appreciated, and with each upcoming volume, we will consult our community on the direction of the growing series.
- A partner in craft, culture and community. Thornwillow isn't just a business. In backing this publication, you are backing our commitment to Craft, Culture and Community. At Thornwillow we are dedicated to teaching and perpetuating the related arts and crafts of the written word and to providing job training and opportunities in a city that is in economic peril. Last year we established the Thornwillow Institute, a registered 501(c)3 public charity, with the goal of restoring and revitalizing our neighborhood and establishing a broader Thornwillow Makers Village that we hope will be a catalyst and resource for creativity and economic development.
More about Thornwillow.
In 1985 Thornwillow was founded by Luke Pontifell, then sixteen, who spent his summer vacations printing and hand binding books. What started as a labor of love has grown into one of the leading purveyors of specialty books and custom stationary in the United States, consolidating centuries of craft and technique under one roof in Newburgh , New York.
For more than thirty years Thornwillow has been committed to enhancing the relationship between the reader and the written word. Our paper, printing, binding, and books are meant to be a lasting and powerful method of communicating and preserving ideas in the modern world. Ultimately, what we do is a very simple thing. It's black ink on white paper, and from that very simple combination, one can open up visions of the universe.
Risks and challenges
We have successfully completed several projects before, including an edition of Shakespeare's 'Sonnets'. We will communicate with our backers in case any unexpected difficulties arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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