One of the things I am trying to accomplish with the T.Letis collection of books (see my posts from April 10-12, 2012) is to add to its holdings of unique and rare Bibles, especially, but not exclusively, KJV’s. A little over a week ago I had the opportunity to purchase a rare Wilmore’s New Analytical Reference Bible from a local auction house, thanks to my son who works there and spotted it. It was published in 1899 by the Wilmore-Andrews Publishing Co. of New York (named after two of its founding directors, James A. Wilmore and S.C. Andrews). There are several things that make this Bible unique and rare (exactly how rare I have yet to determine!): [*click on the pictures to enlarge them]
1. This was one of the last Bibles the company published, because it dissolved in 1900, after only about twelve (12) years of existence (1888-1900, as best as I can determine). Why did it dissolve? In part because of a lawsuit filed against the company by none other than England’s Oxford University, which claimed copyright infringement for another Bible it published with the title, “Holy Bible, Oxford S.S. Teacher’s Edition”. The damages were placed at $10,000 (I found this information at this website). If you do a search on this Bible, you will discover that it was later published under the same name by Henry F. Giere (New York, 1909-10) and by Funk & Wagnall’s Co. (1918), but we have the edition produced by the original publisher, and that just before it ceased to exist.
2. The Bible is big and bulky – 8 -1/2 by 14 inches and about 4 inches thick (1127 pages)! It is considered a Family Bible and includes family record pages. And yet the publisher included these words in its announcement at the beginning: “…There is a demand from the Christian public for a practical and convenient handbook of the Bible…;”, and “their purpose has been to furnish… a standard work which should be comprehensive, …and… compact in form” (emphasis mine). I have to admit, I chuckled when I read that. Imagine lugging this Bible along to church or to society! But, truth be told, it was not intended to be taken to church; it is a family Bible, and it was intended to stay at home and be used by the Christian family, for devotions and Bible study together. Have we forgotten the good tradition of family Bibles?
3. The Bible study aids that are included with this Bible are outstanding and come attached to some familiar names. The first is a “Comprehensive Bible Helps: containing Instructive and Useful Information on Every Subject of Interest in the Bible, and including A Concise History of the Bible; a Condensed Harmony of the Gospels; All the Scripture Proper Names, with their pronunication and meaning; the Coins, Weights, and Measures of the Bible; All Bible Words of Obsolete or Peculiar Meaning, etc., etc.” And this section is “Illustrated with Maps and Engravings”. The name attached to this section? “Revised and Edited by Philip Schaff D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York” – the same Schaff who wrote The Creeds of Christendom and History of the Christian Church!
The next study aid in this Bible is “A Complete Analysis of the Holy Bible: or, The Whole Bible Arranged in Subjects: containing every verse in the Bible, distributed according to its meaning, and arranged, with all other verses bearing on the same subject, under an appropriate heading. Fully indexed, and furnishing simple and exhaustive means for finding all the Bible teaches on any subject.” This section is “edited by Roswell D. Hitchcock, D.D., LL.D., Late President of the Union Theological Seminary, New York.” This truly is an amazing study help, similar to Nave’s “Topical Bible”, but more comprehensive. I have never seen anything like it.
The final study aid in the Wilmore Bible is “Cruden’s Concordance to the Bible: an Index to Every Significant Word in the Bible, Arranged in Alphabetical Order.” We are perhaps familiar with this Bible study tool (or Young’s or Strong’s Concordances), but this one was “edited by John Eadie, D.D., LL.D., Late Professor of Biblical Literature in the United Presbyterian Church, Scotland”. Eadie is recognized as a great, orthodox Bible scholar, whose NT commentaries are still in print and widely used.
4. I am trying to track down the history of this particular Wilmore Bible. No family names were written in the Family Records section, nor is there any writing anywhere in the Bible. However, tucked in the back was an old Vacation Bible School certificate from the Meyersdale (Pennsylvania) Church of the Brethren, made out to a Merle Speicher, dated June 7, 1926 (see picture below)! Through the Internet I discovered the church is still in existence and have emailed them seeking information on this man to see if this Bible was in his family. I will keep you posted when I have an update.
Now you have another reason to come and see the Letis collection at Seminary. I hope you will make a visit someday. Tours are free, remember