Vintage Goodness: Two Mid-Century Editions

No, you're not looking at the latest releases from R. L. Allan or Cambridge. These photos show a couple of near mint mid-century Bibles. The burgundy is a full yapp Revised Version published by Cambridge in 1949, while the black is Nelson's first edition RSV dating from 1952. Alexander Plump, a reader in Dusseldorf, Germany, is the fortunate owner. He snapped these pictures for our enjoyment.


Cambridge RV (1949)
I'm a sucker for full yapp edges, and the color looks great. Whether the photos are color accurate or not I can't say, but if the red in the snaps is anything like real life, I give it a thumbs up. 





Nelson RSV 1st Edition (1952)
On the outside, everything looks conservative … but imagine the impact that clean, modern layout must have had when readers opened this Bible.  





Many thanks to Alex for sharing the photos!

13 Comments on “Vintage Goodness: Two Mid-Century Editions

  1. I used to have the black RSV from 1952 myself. I got it on ebay for $3US+shipping. Unfortunately, it was pretty beat up and didn’t hold up well.
    Then last month, I was in an antique store that used to be the country jailhouse in my hometown. While in one of the “cells”, something small and red was glowing at me. Come to find out it is a Nelson RSV, genuine leather, all red. It had those goofy 1950’s bible pictures in it, so I ripped those out. It is a little smaller than the black RSV but still quite readable. Layout is very clean (like above) and the paper of high quality (reminds me of the paper in the Allan’s Longprimer). Cost me $8US.

  2. these pictures remind me of Marks post on the perfect form factor for a single column setting – short and stout

  3. I own the exact same 1952 first edition RSV. I found it at an estate sale, in mint condition in the original box from Nelson– as if someone had received it as a gift but never opened it, alas! Not a mark on it, inside or out. Quite a find, especially because the layout and typeface are exceptionally clean for that era (as you noted).

  4. This may be slightly off topic, but what a pity someone received a gift of God’s word in 1952 and never even opened it! It was left in its box for 58 years? We are awash in our society with missed opportunity. This spring at a used bookstore I bought a perfect used hardcover of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest, which is excellent. It has an inscription inside “Christmas 2004 To Nate, Love: David, Jodie, Jacob, Caleb & Faith”, also apparently never read. Instead sold for pennies more than likely. I picked it up for $3.

  5. Woah! I fount a mint, red letter version of the black one for $7.98 at my local bookstore an hour ago 🙂

  6. Seeing this Thomas Nelson reminded me of a very positive rebinding experience I recently had with Ace Bookbinding Co.
    I had a 1953 Thomas Nelson pig skin Bible whose spine and cover edges were deteriorating, shipped it off to Ace in Oklahoma, and within 8 days I received back a nicely restored Bible in black cowhide. Ace tightened a loose signature with a new Smyth Sewn binding, removed the thin, reedy red ribbon and replaced it with 3 new wider ribbons of my color selection, raised the ribs, matched the original lettering on the spine, and wrapped it all in a nice semi-yapp leather cover for about $100.
    The photos of my Nelson Bible, before and after, are here:
    I was very happy with the customer service, the rebind options, the quality of the finished product, and the fast turnaround delivery time. I would definitely recommend Ace Bookbinding and would not hesitate to use them again on another project.
    Ace Bookbinding’s website is here:

  7. John,
    No extra charge for the stitching. I chose a semi-yapp and that cost a bit extra. But for less than $100 you get a very good value rebind. The following prices are from their website as of Nov. 2, 2010:
    “Study Bible Rebinding: = $79.00 in our finest Genuine Cowhide Leather (over 20 colors available).
    Study Bible Rebinding: = $69.00 in Genuine Pighide Leather. (5 colors available)
    *All of our leathers are Genuine Animal Hide Skin Leathers, we do not use particle leathers such as Bonded Leather.
    *Both of the above prices include all the extras (Stitching the pages together, new Bible liners, up to 5 new ribbons, all of the title information — according to the original cover and title page — stamped onto the spine of the new cover, & name stamped in lower right hand corner of the front cover ).
    *Prices are based on a standard size study Bible. Oversize study Bibles will cost no more than $6 extra.”
    As I mentioned in the previous post, the customer service was excellent. I got a call the day after they received my Bible to discuss my wish list in detail: the choice of the texture and pattern of the leather, the boards, the size and width of the ribbons, the ornamentation on the spine and cover, the font selection and size, the number of additional page inserts in front or back of Bible, etc. I would recommend browsing through all the photos on their website to get an idea of some of the detailing and ornamentation they can do.
    As an aside, I bought this Thomas Nelson edition for about $5. I loved the red-under-gilt, the paper weight, the text block, and the RSV translation (the ESV ancestor). For me, the rebind was an alternative to purchasing the new Allan’s ESV Reader at double the price with thinner paper. I’m very happy with my decision. It’s my first rebind and, given the sorry state of contemporary Bible publishing, it won’t be my last.

  8. Todd, I found that same version of the RSV at a thrift store a few weeks ago for $2. The leather is stiff and dried, rotting at the edges like yours, and conditioning doesn’t seem to be improving it, so I’d considered rebinding. It’s good to hear that Ace did such a good job, and to see the before and after pics. I especially like how understated the spine is; a lot of the Bibles on their site are a lot more ornate then I’d like, so it’s good to know that they can do simpler work as well. 😉
    Thanks, brother!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *