"CONCEIVED HARMONIOUSLY AND MADE BEAUTIFULLY": THE FAMED FIVE-VOLUME NONESUCH BIBLE—ONE OF ONLY 75 COPIES ON ARNOLD RAG PAPER
(NONESUCH PRESS) BIBLE. The Holy Bible, reprinted according to the Authorized Version 1611. London: Nonesuch Press, 1924-27. Five volumes. Narrow quarto, original full vellum, all edges gilt. Housed in two custom cloth clamshell boxes. $7500.
Splendid private-press limited edition of the Bible, this copy one of only 75 unnumbered sets on Arnold unbleached rag paper and bound in vellum. A splendid production typeset by Nonesuch founder Francis Meynell, illustrated with five beautifully engraved title pages by Stephen Gooden, and handsomely printed by Frederick Hall at the Oxford University Press.
The printing of the famous five-volume Nonesuch Bible began in 1924 with The Apocrypha (becoming Volume IV of the final set). Originally intended as a stand-alone volume, The Apocrypha was so beautiful that the project was enlarged to encompass the entire Bible. The Nonesuch Press was founded in 1923 by Francis Meynell, David Garnett and Vera Mendel in the basement premises under the Birrell & Garnett bookshop in London, with the mission to make books "for those among collectors who also use books for reading. It was set up… to make books according to a triple ideal: significance of subject, beauty of format, and moderation of price." The primary value, nonetheless, lies in their overall design and typography—"in the sense of unity, conceived harmoniously and made beautifully like any other genuine work of art" (Charles Ricketts). Typeset by Francis Meynell himself, the layout of the Bible is simple, consecutively paged and without verse numbering. Each volume contains an engraved title-page, a head-piece and a tail-piece by Stephen Gooden, well-known for his illustration of Aesop's Fables. Nonesuch employed commercial printers, being designers rather than manufacturers, "architects of books, rather than builders" (Cave, 188). This is one of 75 unnumbered copies printed on Arnold rag paper and bound in full vellum (as this copy) or morocco; a further 1000 copies (1250 of the Apocrypha) were printed on Japon vellum paper and issued in parchment-covered boards. Ransom, Nonesuch 18, 36. The printed colophon at the rear of Volume I notes that this copy, one of 75 on Arnold rag paper, was printed for Maysie Murray Bowser.
Fine condition. A superb and quite desirable fine press edition of the Bible.