In 1945 The World Publishing Company was engaged in refurbishing the format of it extensive list of Bibles. As he surveyed the Bible field in preparation for this task, B.D. Zevin, World’s president, was forcibly struck anew by something which had only vaguely disturbed him in the past the lack of a contemporary American folio Bible of noble proportions and in the great Bible tradition. As he discussed this with his associates over a period of many months he formed a resolve to remedy this lack.
Resolve notwithstanding, explorations and discussions revealed some formidable problems. Who could set the type for such an immense work? Who could print it? What plant could bind it? Clearly, such an undertaking could not be entered upon lightly.
Looking back on it now, it turned out that the problem which solved itself most easily was that one that seemed at the time to be the most difficult. The selection of a designer took up the greater part of Mr. Zevin’s thought, arousing alternately high hopes and deep despair. The grandeur and scope of the work contemplated called for a conception and ability whose scale few men could fulfill. A few, very few names were discussed back and forth interminably, but every discussion returned to and ended invariably with the one name brought up at the beginning.
Bruce Rodgers, of course, was this name. the thought of publishing an American folio Bible fashioned by his hand was an exciting prospect. Yet who could hope that Mr. Rodgers would consent to undertake another folio Bible. He had already designed one such work, the Oxford Lectern Bible, and there was no reason to expect that he would wish to assume another task of such magnitude.
The months passed and the discussions continued. Then suddenly and quite unexpectedly the problem sold itself.
Through Philip C. Duschnes, the New York bookseller, World learned, in September of 1945, that Bruce Rogers would like to make another folio Bible.
Here was news, and news of a most provocative nature. It was quickly communicated to Mr. Zevin in Cleveland. Within a week the first meeting took place with Mr. Rogers. On October 19 the first cost estimates were submitted and the decision to publish was made. In November and early December of 1945, correspondence between Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Zevin formalized the agreement whereby Bruce Rogers would design a folio Bible for The World Publishing Company, to be printed in an edition of close to 1,000 copies, and to be sold for just under $200 per copy (in mid-1940’s dollars, which is about $3,500 in 2023 dollars).
One of the important factors making such action possible was the participation, from the beginning, of Mr. A. Colish, is one of our country’s great printers. This solved the problem of who was to set and print the work. It was Mr. Colish who worked with BR on the preparation of the numerous sample pages before the final selection of the typeface and decorative treatment. His subsequent supervision of the work, from typesetting through presswork, which consumed more than three years’ time and taxed his highest standards of craftsmanship, is among the great contributions made to the WORLD BIBLE.
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