|The Book of Common Prayer|
In 1928 Daniel Berkeley Updike and his Merrymount Press won a competition to produce the Standard Book of the 1928 U. S. Book of Common Prayer. The Standard Book was intended to be the one to which all other printings were to be compared for accuracy. Updike was an obvious choice for this task: he was a life-long Episcopalian (his ancestors in Rhode Island included Episcopal clergy) and so knew the church and its liturgy, he was a prominent printer of books and other items of the highest quality, and he had already, early in his career, printed the Standard Edition of the 1892 BCP. The book which resulted is regarded as one of the classics of American book design.
Joseph Blumenthal, in The Printed Book in America, has this to say about the book:
The high point of Updike’s career as a designer and printer was
the completion in 1930 of The Book of Common Prayer. . . According
to the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of
America. His specimen pages were chosen, from among those invited
from four printers, by the Church’s Commission on Revision. The
whole undertaking was financed by J. Pierpont Morgan. “It was an
enormous task,” wrote Updike, “and one which taxed our resources
in many different directions, but in which what knowledge I had of the
history of a Church to which my family have been for nearly three hundred
years adherents, and of the liturgical requirements and practical use
of the Prayer Book stood me in good stead. . . . The book was begun in
1928 and was finished in the autumn of 1930.” Without decoration,
except a typographic leaf, initial letters, and rubrication, this is an
austere and handsome quarto. Five copies were printed on vellum. The edition
is a superb example of American craftsmanship and an abiding tribute to
all concerned in its production.
What we present here are Adobe Acrobat (PDF) text files intended to be as true to the original as our limited abilities allow. The font used is Kis BT, which is Bitstream's version of Janson, the font used in the original. The only significant difference from what we have here online and the original is the paper size: The files below are intended to be printed on standard 8.5 x 11" paper, while the original paper is 9.25 x 13.5" (23.5 x 34.5cm). Since the text block is the same size as in the original, the margins are therefore somewhat smaller in the files presented here. The free Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view these files. We have a page which describes in more detail the differences between PDF and other file formats.
This book appears in David Griffiths' Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer as 1930/3; additionally a facsimile of this book was issued by the Episcopal Church in 1952 in a smaller format; this book is Griffiths 1952/4.
Updike also wrote a short article on liturgical printing, which is online thanks to oremus.org, and may be of interest in relationship to his work on the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
We additionally have Updike's 6-page Prospectus for this volume, as a scanned PDF. It includes an invitation to potential subscribers, plus the specimen page shown at right.
above files are also available as a single
Return to the 1928 Book of Common Prayer
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