The Book of GENESIS
Thornwillow Press presents The Book of GENESIS in a multi-colored letterpress edition as it has never been seen before.
The Book of GENESIS
Thornwillow Press presents The Book of GENESIS in a multi-colored letterpress edition as it has never been seen before.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Wed, October 16 2019 8:30 PM UTC +00:00.
TLDR: We are publishing a fine press edition of GENESIS — a letterpress-printed and hand-bound limited edition that will be printed in four different colors, to correspond to the four known sources of the text. This is Genesis as it has never been seen before.
Who am I... and where did I come from?
Genesis, the first book of the Bible set out to answer that question more than 3400 years ago, and the stories set forth on its pages continue to resonate today. Whether you believe its source to be Divine revelation or human Mythology, the preservation of these stories over millennia is nothing short of a miracle. There is no denying that this book lies at the heart of civilization as we know it.
At Thornwillow Press, we are dedicated to the preservation of great art and great ideas, to making books that enhance the relationship between the reader and the written word… so it is with pleasure that we announce our next endeavor - The Book of Genesis.
Above and beyond its importance as a religious document, the Bible has shaped Western civilization, literature, art, and culture. Harvard University archeologist, Robert Homsher, once said, “Whether you’re religious or not, whether you’ve read the Bible or not—maybe you’ve never even been inside a church—it doesn’t matter. Certain concepts, notions, names from the biblical world permeate the global society in which we live… names like Eden, Babylon, even Armageddon, permeate throughout popular culture, media, stories. These are timeless things.”
With its origins in oral tradition, we are publishing GENESIS at a time when the wheel of human history has turned once more toward the ephemeral, when our stories are turned on and off with the flip of a switch. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we preserve and make tangible the texts that have defined our common identities.
At the end of a long transmission…
We are tracing Genesis back to its origins, beginning with a translation which reflects the text as it was over 2000 years ago. An original monograph by Dr. Robert Homsher, celebrated Biblical scholar and archaeologist, sheds further light for the contemporary reader, as he walks us through the complex history that gave rise to this monumental text.
Tradition maintains that Moses was the author of Genesis, but scholars have shown that within Genesis, one can discern four distinct authorial sources. We are excited to print—for the first time in a fine edition—the text of Genesis in four unique colors, each representing one of these authorial sources, with the hope of lending clarity to an otherwise opaque historical process.
- The Yahwist represented in red - Dating roughly between 600-500 BC, the Yahwist source is believed to the product of exiles and returnees from Babylon.
- The Elohist represented in green - Also dating roughly between 600-500 BC, these texts appear only in Genesis, and are believed to come from miscellaneous collected stories intended to supplement the Yahwist source.
- The Priestly Source represented in blue - The Priestly source, which introduced laws to satisfy worship based around a new temple in Jerusalem, was written during the post-exilic period as Judaism was codified in writing and the Bible began to take shape.
- The Redactor represented in black - The final composition of the Torah, edited to incorporate the various historical sources, dates between 400 and 200 BC.
This multi-color layout gives the reader a unique window into the first book of the Bible. As the different colors indicate changes in source, the reader will now be able to add proper context to the shifts in the text that have historically caused confusion.
Understanding these sources is the key to understanding Genesis’ eccentricities, contradictions, and motivations.
How our books are made:
In his introduction, Dr. Homsher astutely remarks, “We are at the receiving end of a long, complex history of textual tradition, which was a very human process.” Thornwillow’s edition of Genesis honors this human process and follows in the footsteps of great printers, beginning with Johannes Gutenberg, who have shaped culture through the publication of their Bibles. (Larger than our recent publications, the page size of GENESIS will be 7 3/8 x 11 1/4 inches following the dimensions and proportions of a 16th Century volume in our archive). At the same time, we are excited to present a new perspective on an iconic text.
All of the design, printing, and binding are done at Thornwillow in our workshops in Newburgh, New York. We are perhaps the only fine press publisher in the world to unite these related arts and crafts of the written word under one roof, and we are committed to teaching and perpetuating them for readers today and for years to come.
We start with a beautiful layout. The text is set using classical ratios of type to page, giving each book luxurious margins and elegant proportions.
Once the book is laid out, the text is printed letterpress on our Heidelberg Cylinder Press. The type is literally pressed into the heavy archival stock, so that you can feel the letters as you run your fingers across the page. This is an ancient art—the same process by which Johannes Gutenberg printed his books 500 years ago.
Each book is then folded into eight page signatures, collated and sewn together.
The books are then bound by hand by our master craftsmen, who create the highest quality bindings in the world.
We are offering GENESIS in a number of different Editions that are inspired by the text and the historic context of how the Bible has been presented to readers over time. Different Editions feature different papers for the letterpress printed text and the bindings range in elaborateness from letterpress printed paper wrappers, to gold tooled full leather bindings— one is even set with a genuine cabochon ruby in the cover. That said, ALL of the Editions are made with the highest attention to detail by craftspeople who make books that are themselves works of art.
Note especially the ONE-OF-A-KIND EDITIONS that feature not only extraordinary bindings but also include ORIGINAL HISTORIC ARTIFACTS that provide a tangible link to iconic milestones in the history of the Bible.
Paper Wrapper | $95 | Edition limited to 100 more than backed
Our paper wrapper bindings are made with incredible care. Like the cloth and leather bindings, they have sewn signatures which enables them to open easily for a beautiful reading experience. The letterpress printed wrapper is folded over a letterpress cover that secures the signatures. The text is printed letterpress on warm white felt finish archival stock. Each copy is numbered and signed.
Half-Cloth | $195 | Edition limited to 100 more than backed
The Half-Cloth Edition features a cloth spine and corners, letterpress printed boards and endpapers, and a letterpress spine label. The text is printed letterpress on warm white felt finish archival stock. Each copy is signed and numbered.
Half-Leather | Starting at $595 | Edition limited to 25 more than backed
The HALF-LEATHER edition is bound in dark blue morocco and handmade paste paper boards. It has letterpress printed Eden endpapers. The top edge of the book is gilt and each copy has hand-sewn headbands. The text is printed letterpress on milkweed vellum finish archival stock. Each copy is signed and numbered.
TAKE NOTE: The Early-Bird subscribers will receive EARTH — A Broadside Portfolio Trilogy (See bottom of page for details). It will be possible to order a cloth clamshell box with suede lining and a gold tooled leather spine label for this edition during the post campaign survey for $200.
VELLUM with Grosgrain Ties | Limited to 25 Copies | $695
The VELLUM edition is bound in a historic binding style that was popular in the 16th Century and was revived by many of the great bookmakers of the early 1900's including the Doves, Ashendene, and Kelmscott presses. It is a flexible binding made of genuine vellum and it is tied at the fore edge by grosgrain ribbons that lace through the cover. The top edge is gilt and the book has hand-sewn headbands. The text is letterpress printed on exceptional soft cotton paper with natural edges. Each copy is numbered and signed. It will be possible to order a cloth clamshell box with suede lining and a gold tooled leather spine label for this edition during the post campaign survey for $200. The edition is limited to 25 copies.
Half-Leather NOAH'S ARK Edition | Limited to 16 Copies | $995
The NOAH'S ARK edition is bound in half brown moroccan goatskin and features handmade wood grained paste paper boards and rain pattern endpaper. The top edge is gilt and the book has hand-sewn headbands. It is presented in a suede lined clamshell box with a gold tooled leather spine label. The text is printed letterpress on exceptional soft cotton paper with natural edges. Each copy is numbered and signed. The edition is limited to 16 copies.
Half-Leather ANTIQUE CALF Edition | Limited to 16 Copies | $1500
The Half-Leather ANTIQUE CALF edition is bound in a historic binding style that was popular in the 17th Century at the time of the first publication of the King James Bible. It is bound with a speckled calf spine and corners and hand-marbled cockerel paper on the cover boards. The top edge is gilt and the book has hand-sewn headbands. It is presented in a suede lined clamshell box with a gold tooled leather spine label. The text is letterpress printed on exceptional soft cotton paper with natural edges. Each copy is numbered and signed. The edition is limited to 16 copies.
Full-Leather ANTIQUE CALF Edition | Limited to 16 Copies | $3000
The Full-Leather ANTIQUE CALF edition is bound in speckled calf, a leather finish popular in the 17th Century at the time of the first publication of the King James Bible. It has hand-marbled endpaper. The top edge is gilt and the book has hand-sewn headbands. It is presented in a suede lined clamshell box with a gold tooled leather spine label. The text is letterpress printed on exceptional soft cotton paper with natural edges. Each copy is numbered and signed. The edition is limited to 16 copies.
Full-Leather SERPENT Edition | Limited to 3 Copies | $4000
The SERPENT edition is inspired by the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis. It is bound in scarlet moroccan goatskin on the spine and corners and genuine python skin on the boards. The top edge is gilt and the book has hand-sewn headbands. It is presented in a suede lined clamshell box with a gold tooled leather spine label. The text is letterpress printed on birch paper. Each copy is numbered and signed. The edition is limited to 3 copies.
Full-Leather | THE HEAVENS Edition | Limited to THREE Copies | $3500
The HEAVENS Edition is bound in dark blue morocco. The sun, moon, and stars are tooled in genuine gold on the cover. It has hand-marbled endpaper, the top edge is gilt, and the book has hand-sewn headbands. It is presented in a suede lined clamshell box. The text is letterpress printed on exceptional soft cotton paper with natural edges. It is numbered and signed. This edition is limited to THREE copies.
Full-Leather | The MANUSCRIPT Edition | Limited to ONE Copy | $4000
The MANUSCRIPT Edition includes THE LIGHT bound in full yellow morocco. The sun is tooled in genuine gold on the cover and is set with a cabochon ruby. It has hand-marbled endpaper, the top edge is gilt, and the book has hand-sewn headbands. It is presented in a suede lined clamshell box. The text is letterpress printed on exceptional soft cotton paper with natural edges. It is numbered and signed. AND it includes a genuine manuscript leaf hand written on vellum c. 1425. This edition is limited to only ONE copy.
The genuine manuscript leaf accompanying this volume is from a liturgical text that was hand written on vellum. It is written in black with red and blue initials most likely in a scriptorium situated in the Benelux states BEFORE Gutenberg printed the first book in the West.
Full-Leather | KING JAMES | Limited to ONE Copy | $4500
The Full-Leather KING JAMES edition is bound in speckled calf, a leather binding style popular in the 17th Century at the time of the first publication of the King James Bible. The cover and spine are tooled in genuine gold. It has hand-marbled endpaper. The top edge is gilt and the book has hand-sewn headbands. It is presented in a suede lined clamshell box with a gold tooled leather spine label. The text is letterpress printed on exceptional soft cotton paper with natural edges. It is numbered and signed. AND it includes a genuine leaf from a 1613/11 original edition of the KING JAMES BIBLE. We will make only ONE copy.
The leaf included features the opening lines of Genesis from the historic original edition. The publishing history of the first edition of the King James Bible is fascinating. There were several subtle variants printed over the course of several years. Hence, there are several incarnations of the "first" edition.
When Bibles were printed at the time of the 1611 King James' Bible they would usually print the first or general title page, also called the Old Testament title page, last showing the date of its printing completion. On occasion the New Testament title page would bear an earlier date because it had been printed at the end of the previous year whereas the the Old Testament title would bear the date of the new year. So... the leaf included here is from a copy where the printing had begun in 1611 and was completed in 1613.
The idea of creating a new translation of the Bible in the 17th Century was first suggested by John Rainolds or Reynolds (1549-1607), President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the Puritan leader at the Hampton Court Conference in 1604. The King took up the proposal warmly, and its achievement was due to his royal interest and influence. The preliminary work was accomplished in about four years. The translators, who numbered about fifty, were divided into six companies, each company being responsible for a certain section of the scriptures. The results of their work were subjected to mutual criticism, and then underwent nine months’ final revision by a representative committee of six members, sitting in London. The editors who passed the book through the press were Miles Smith, afterwards Bishop of Gloucester (d. 1624), and Thomas Bilson (1547–1616), Bishop of Winchester. The latter, perhaps, composed the headings to the chapters. To the former is ascribed the noble preface — The Translators to the Reader.
Full-Leather | INCUNABULA | Limited to ONE Copy | $4000
The Full-Leather INCUNABULA edition is bound in genuine vellum over boards, a binding style of the 15th Century. The top edge is gilt and the book has hand-sewn headbands. It is presented in a suede lined clamshell box with a gold tooled leather spine label. The text is letterpress printed on exceptional soft cotton paper with natural edges. It is numbered and signed. AND it includes a genuine leaf from Johannes Herbort's Latin Vulgate Bible printed in 1484. We are only making ONE copy of this edition.
The tern "incunabula" refers to books printed before 1500 during the earliest days of printing in the West. Johannes Gutenberg's Bible, printed around 1455, was the first book to be printed from movable metal type in Europe. His work was a milestone of innovation that changed the world for centuries. His technological innovation remained the basis for printing for 500 years. Letterpress printing, the printing technology we employ at Thornwillow today, uses the same basic technology of applying ink to type that is then pressed into paper to print a sheet. Ironically, in this age of disposable and virtual communications, the centuries old craft of letterpress printing is more relevant than ever before. Objects that are beautifully made and designed to last matter more today than ever.
The leaf included with this volume is particularly relevant to our story. It not only presents the first lines of Genesis, it is from an edition of the Bible that set out to clarify the sources and accuracy of the text. One of the "Fontibus ex Graecis" editions of the Bible that appeared in the 15th Century, the publisher of this leaf sought to print a text that was more accurate by turning to earlier and presumably more accurate Greek translations of the original text. This edition is from the Venetian press of Johann Herbort. Herbort set up his own press in 1481 after working for Johannes de Colonia and Nicolaus Jenson, also in Venice.
SOME SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES and BUNDLED TIERS
The Genesis Book Club | Starting at $190
If you are looking to enjoy reading GENESIS with a group of friends (or would simply like more copies to give as gifts), subscribe to the BOOK CLUB tier and you will also receive at no additional cost, one EDEN NOTEBOOK with each copy ordered. Like the edition itself, the pages of the EDEN NOTEBOOK are sewn into signatures and it has a letterpress printed paper wrapper. The pages themselves are heavy archival stock suitable for notes, diaries, sketches, ideas, and inspirations.
Half-Leather Collector: Timeless Treasures | $2400
Subscribers to the HALF-LEATHER COLLECTOR tier will receive 3 book: GENESIS, DEATH ON THE NILE, and THE GREAT GATSBY all bound in moroccan goatskin and handmade paste paper boards. Each copy has hand sewn headbands and the top edge is gilt. Each copy (including Genesis) is presented in a suede lined clamshell box with a gold tooled leather spine label and is numbered and signed.
Genesis, Sun Spots, and Earth | $375
Subscribers will receive a copy of GENESIS bound in half-cloth and SUN SPOTS, and EARTH.
SUN SPOTS is a portfolio of 5 prints featuring Maria Mitchell images of the sun. She was America's first female astronomer, a pioneer of astrophotography, and the first scientist to photograph the Sun daily. Her work was groundbreaking—she captured photographs which are not just scientifically significant, but are great works of art.
EARTH is a Broadside Portfolio Trilogy featuring 3 portfolios—each containing 10 letterpress printed broadsides. 30 in all! "The Good Earth", "What You Don't Know Might Hurt You", and "The Final Frontier".
The EARTH Broadside Portfolio Trilogy is included with ALL GENESIS PLEDGE TIERS for FREE if you are also a Thornwillow PATREON subscriber at the 10pt GARAMOND level or higher. Visit patreon.com/thornwillow to learn more and subscribe.
If you are a Patreon subscriber AND you back a tier that includes EARTH... we will also send you the REALITY BROADSIDE PORTFOLIO TRILOGY (rather than send you two copies of the same collection).
Paper Collector: Three Essential Classics | $275
Subscribers to the PAPER COLLECTOR tier will receive GENESIS, INFERNO, and THE WASTE LAND all bound in letterpress printed paper wrappers.
The Ten Commandments Broadside | $10
With this project, we are adding a new title to the Broadside Library: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. It is letterpress printed on heavy archival stock and pocket-sized. The Thornwillow Broadside Library is a treasury of eclectic ideas and inspirations. Read them, collect them, share them.
A Note on our Pricing:
We are extremely grateful to pre-publication subscribers like you. Without your support, it would not be possible for us to do what we do. By way of thanks, we offer our work at reduced pricing to those who come in early to support a project and help it get off the ground. Our prices increase as availability decreases. After the prepublication subscription period ends for a particular project, we will post available copies on our website. (NOTE: Often certain versions of the edition are fully subscribed during the Kickstarter launch.) When an edition is down to just a few remaining copies left, the prices tend to be much higher then they were at the beginning. This rewards collectors who came in early.
In subscribing to a Thornwillow publication, you are not just adding a beautiful book to your shelf that is likely to appreciate in value, you are making an investment in people. You are making it possible for us to teach and perpetuate the related arts and crafts of the written word. By joining our community, you join us in celebrating the written word.
About Thornwillow Press:
Thornwillow Press was founded in 1985 by Luke Ives Pontifell, when he was just 16. During college he ran the press from his Harvard dorm room and the barn at his parents’ 18th century farm in Western Massachusetts. Over the years, Thornwillow has grown to become one of the preeminent fine presses in the world. Thornwillow has published the original works of John Updike, President Barack Obama, James Merrill, and more. Thornwillow publications can be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the Morgan Library, the Vatican, and the Bodleian Library at Oxford, among many others.
To learn more about Thornwillow Press please visit thornwillow.com. To learn more about the work of the Thornwillow Institute and Makers Village — a 501(c)3 public charity committed to supporting craft, culture and community — and how you can help support our mission, please visit thornwillowinstitute.org.
Risks and challenges
We have successfully conducted twenty-seven past projects, and are confident in our ability to manage any unexpected challenges. We do not anticipate any with this project. That said, we will always communicate them to our backers if they do arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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