Book History

Author: N/A
Since this book is a Bible, there is no one author.
Bibliographic Information
The Apocrypha: Reprinted According to the Authorized Version of 1611. London: Nonesuch Press, 1924.
Physical Description
The book is printed on japon vellum paper, and the covers are cream-colored boards covered in paper. The illustrations are copperplates. Every eighth page is marked with an alphabetical letter, meaning that the book is a quarto. The dimensions are: 12 1/8 x 7 3/4 inches; 307 x 197 mm.
Illustrator: Stephen Gooden
Gooden engraved and designed the copperplates for this book. He would later go on to design bookplates for the Royal Library at Windsor Castle.
Publisher: Francis Meynell
Francis Meynell was the founder of the Nonesuch Press. He set the type for this edition and then had it sent to Oxford University Press to be commercially printed by Frederick Hall, printer to the University press at the time.
The Authorized (or King James) Version of the Bible was first compiled in 1611. It originally included the Apocrypha as a separate section. Until 1535, with the first English translation of the Bible by Miles Coverdale, the Apocrypha had been interspersed throughout the Bible. Through most of the nineteenth century, the Apocrypha continued to be included as a separate section. By the time this Apocrypha was printed, however, it was quite rare for an English Bible to include the Apocrypha at all, since it was no longer considered divinely inspired at all.

For this particular edition, there were 1250 copies printed, and 75 additional copies printed on Arnold unbleached rag paper.
Bookpoi: A Guide to Identify Rare and First Edition Books, “Glossary of Book Terms,” letter_j.html (accessed November 10, 2011).

Brake, Donald. A Visual History of the King James Bible: The Dramatic Story of the World’s Best-Known Translation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.

Brass, David. “The Holy Bible and the Apocrypha.” David Brass Rare Books. -cart/single_book.php?sbook=1416 (accessed November 10, 2011).

Fowler, Alfred. The Romance of Fine Prints. Kansas City: The Print Society, 1938.

Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1972.

Herbert, A.S. Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525-1961. London: The British and Foreign Bible Society, 1968.

Norton, David. A Textual History of The King James Bible. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Sutcliffe, Peter. The Oxford University Press: An Informal History. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978.

This edition of the Apocrypha: Reprinted according to the Authorized Version of 1611 is the fourth of 5 volumes of the Bible that were printed in London in 1924 by the Nonesuch Press. Though produced in the twentieth century, this book is, in many ways, a relic of another time. This Apocrypha can be viewed as an abnormality for its era because of its means of production, its material make-up, and its cultural relevance. The fact that the book is more suited to an earlier time shows a clear cultural reaction against modernization.

The Nonesuch Press was founded by Francis Meynell in 1922 with the purpose of producing fine quality books that could be made available to a wider audience. Meynell was committed to the concept of printing as an art form and the idea that “mechanical means could be made to serve fine ends.” This philosophy—potentially deriving inspiration from the Arts and Crafts Movement, which was a reaction against industrialization—greatly influenced the creation of this Apocrypha. Thus, Meynell set the type by hand on an Albion press before sending it to Oxford University to be mechanically printed by Frederick Hall.

As a material object, this book shows many signs of being old-fashioned and well-crafted. It is printed on Japon vellum paper, which is an imitation of parchment, and generally found in fancier editions. This edition is number 53 of 1250 copies that were printed on Japon vellum; 75 more were printed on Arnold unbleached rag paper. It has 238 pages with rough, uncut edges. The covers are cream-colored boards covered in paper and the binding is sewn in by three large stitches. The illustrations are copperplates at the beginning and end of the book, designed and engraved by Stephen Gooden, who would later engrave bookplates for the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. On the bottom of every eighth page, there are alphabetical markings A-Z, then doubled (Aa-Ii) that were used in the old-fashioned method of reading the proofs during the assembly of the book. Since there are eight pages for every alphabet letter, each sheet was folded twice, creating four leaves of paper and ultimately eight pages.

In terms of cultural relevance, the Apocrypha had traditionally appeared in the Latin Vulgate with its books interspersed throughout the Old Testament. In 1535, Miles Coverdale produced the first English translation of the Bible—he became the first to claim that the Apocrypha was not divinely inspired and to include it as a separate section apart from the rest of the Bible. In 1615, George Abbot, archbishop of Canterbury, passed a statute that required that the Apocrypha be included in every King James Bible. By the twentieth century when this book was produced however, this statute had long been out of date and the Apocrypha was no longer included in Protestant Bibles, so the choice to include the Apocrypha in this edition was unusual.

The nameplate on the inside cover of the book sums up this Apocrypha quite well. It has the name of Thomas R. Boggs and bears the inscription “A Bove Maiore Discit Arare Minor,” which means “From the old ox, the young one learns to plow.” This little proverb is very appropriate for this book since its methods of production, choice of materials, and cultural context all evoke a sense of traditionalism. This book is significant because it shows that despite the increase of industrialization and modernization in the twentieth century, there was still an attraction towards the precision and delicacy of the old ways.

Submitted by Olivia Colville
Published: 1924
Call Number: BS1692 1924b