Tuesday, December 17, 2013

1953 Douay-Confraternity, Gregorian Edition (John J. Crawley)

I was on e-bay the other day looking at Bibles (which I do a lot) and the cover photo of this Bible caught my eye. Most of the 1953 Crawley addition Confraternity Bibles have a brown hard cover with a gold cross on it, of which are offered on e-bay frequently. But this leather wrapped hard cover is really nice.

The Bible is illuminated (as you can see in the photo), there are 93 illuminated pictures scattered throughout the OT and the NT, all depicting Bible scenes (each book has at least one). The beginning word of each book is also illuminated and the beginning word of each chapter has a minor illumination of the first letter.

This is not one of those big family Bibles, it measures 8 3/4 x 5 7/8 x 2 1/2 inches. It has a sewn binding and lays flat for table top reading. It has three ribbon markers (gold, red and purple), gold gilded page edges, and has 10 pages of maps. The paper is nice and thick with almost no bleed through (typical of many older Bibles), but it does make for a fatter Bible, but that is ok. The font size is about 8, which is usually a little small for me, but with almost no bleed through and well spaced lettering I can read it just fine (see photo). 

The first eight books of the OT (Genesis - Ruth) and the Psalms are in the Confraternity translation, the rest of the OT is in the Douay translation. The NT is also the Confraternity translation. 

I paid $59.00 for this Bible which is more than I usually pay for a used Bible, but it is in very nice condition, and if I were to buy the cheaper version of this Bible and wanted to get it re-covered later that would cost at least $100.00, so it is my Christmas gift to myself! I have since seen two more of these Bibles on e-bay.

Thank you to Rolf, one of the most faithful readers of this blog, for submitting this review.  Looks like a real beauty!


Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful Bible! I love the cover and the illuminations are works of art. Personally, I think the price was very reasonable.

Congratulations & Merry Christmas!


Theophrastus said...

Rolf, the illustrations look like they are taken from the 1478 Urbino Bible. Is that correct, or is it taken from a different illuminated manuscript?

rolf said...

Theophrastus, I don't know where the illustrations are taken from, there is no credit given in the Bile that I can find.

Llanbedr said...


I can't quite place this illumination, but I don't think it's the Urbino. I'd be willing to bet one of my major organs that we're looking at an illumination from a fifteenth century, French, Book of Hours.

John Francis Frederick Manlapig said...

"The paper is nice and thick with almost no bleed through (typical of many older Bibles), but it does make for a fatter Bible, but that is ok. "

- I remember buying the complete Confraternity Bible published by Sinag-Tala here in the Philippines. It's so beautifula and read-able but it is rather bulky and fat. No wonder people prefer the smaller and more portable compact GNTs and CCBs to this one.
I hope they could come up with a more compact edition of the whole bible, similar to the great work they did with the Confraternity pocket-sized NT.

Blessed Christmas!

Jason Engel said...

Excellent find. Merry Christmas to you!

And it's good to know I'm not the only person with a habit of watching eBay for rare or unique Bibles ;)

Anonymous said...

To John Francis Frederick Manlapig:

You never bought the "complete Confraternity Bible published by Sinag-Tala". I have that Bible. It is not a "complete" Confraternity Bible. No one - as far as I can tell - has ever published the "complete" Confraternity Bible. Sad to say, but true. If you don't believe me, look inside that Bible and you'll see parts of the Old Testament are from the Douay Rheims Bible. I bought it assuming it was a "complete" Confraternity. It isn't.


John Francis Frederick Manlapig said...


Thanks for the correction!
Parts of the OT are still from the Douay.

God bless and have a blessed Christmas!

Jeffrey Michael said...

A very good find indeed for $59.00! It is a very rare instance far and few in between when you see the Gregorian edition up for sale. I had a copy that I sold on ebay once. kicked myself after selling it, then it was about three years until a perfect copy (any copy for that matter) came up and I bought it. These are absolutely beautiful editions, rare, and virtually little is known about them. There is a companion edition that goes with the Gregorian Bible - same binding, same awesome illuminations; it was published a few years after the Gregorian Bible - entitled THE LIFE OF CHRIST. The lesser bound Gutenberg are more plentiful to be sure but rare to find a very good to pristine copy. Those have sold at auction up to $80.00 or more, which as auctions go, are the wholesale price, but have sold outright with an asking price of much more. And the Gregorian in pristine condition will even go for more... even close to $200. The bight side of this is that many who sell them will not know what they have. They'll look at the Gregorian Edition, think it is pretty and looks like an Easton Press book and sell it for just a tad more than what a leather bound Easton Press book goes for... like for $59 dollars. So, indeed, congratulations! you shopped victoriously.

rolf said...

Jeffrey Michael, thanks for the info. This Bible came out as a 'buy it now' and not an auction so I was lucky, I had been scanning the newly listed Catholic Bibles and caught it quickly.

Eric Barczak said...

It looks like there's another one on Ebay right now. No bids, $20 starting, $12 s/h. Item 291058478904. Looks like some edge wear from the pics (on my phone so hard to evaluate).

Anonymous said...

Hello Everyone - Is this blog still active? I have a very important question to ask about a rare copy of the 1953 Catholic Family edition from August 15, 1953 J. Crawley. I could really use some help. Thanks! Dan.

Timothy said...

Ask away

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Timothy. I am looking for a 1953 Catholic Family Edition of the Bible, Imprintur: August 15, 1953 - with one caveat. Included in the edition I am looking for is the Sapential Books, which the copyright page states was printed on June 8, 1956. I don't know if the red Bible in this blog is one of those. They key is that "Sirach" starts on page 789. There are many versions of the 1953 August 15 bible on Amazon and Ebay, and have bought several, but doesn't have the 1956 copyright also. On the copyright page up at the top, you can see "copyright 1953, 1956" in stead of just "copyright 1953."

My grandmother gave me a copy of the 1953, 1956 version 25 years ago. However, after many hours of reading, the binding has broken and the pages have ripped. Does anyone know where I can find this? Or what is it even called if I were to look for one online? There are so many 1953 Catholic Family editions, but none specify that is has the 1956 Sapential books. I would appreciate any help, and could scan and upload the copyright page so anyone could see what I'm talking about. It would mean the world to me! Kind regards, Dan

rolf said...

Daniel, the above mentioned Bible has the Aug 15, 1953 Imprimatur but not the 1956 date for the sapential books. Sirach (Ecclesiasticus starts on page 785 of this Bible). In this Bible the sapential books are still in the Douay-Rheims version. It sounds like the Bible you are looking for will have the first eight books of the Bible and the Sapential books in the Confraternity translation. The Confraterity translation was released in stages which makes it a little more difficult to find a certain Bible.

Daniel said...

If you can't find the exact version of the one you have...though I am sure it will come up somewhere/sometime and I know you have your heart set on that one...there are a few Bibles available on eBay that have the Sapiential Books in the Confraternity translation. This Bible, currently on eBay, is a really nice one. It should match the text at least of the Bible you have. This one has the New Testament in the Confraternity Translation, Genesis to Ruth in the Confraternity Translation, and the Sapiential Books (Job to Sirach) in the Confraternity Translation. All the other OT books are in the Douay translation.

This particular Bible is a 1958 edition in almost perfect condition. $70.00 will be a lot to spend on a Bible that is not the exact one you are looking for...but the actual text (should) be exactly the same. Might also make a nice backup until you find the one you are looking for. Here is the link information in case it helps in any way:

Imprimatur: Francis Cardinal Spellman "New Catholic Edition" of the BIBLE 1958

Anonymous said...

Thank you both very much. I appreciate the feedback. Yes, I have looked at the ebay link of the 1958 version before, and not worried about the price if it is the one I want.. Unfortunately, it does not preserve the exact translations of the 1953 Catholic family edition, minus the Sapiential books. I'm sure if I keep looking (now that I know what I'm looking for), it will come up. Although I have been looking for over 20 years! I wonder if John J Crawley actually keeps a database of everything that was ever published and printed, but who know. Best to all. Take care - Dan

Paige Rahe said...

I have a 1953 copy of this Bible imprimatur August 15th 1953 hardback as seen in picture with rare cover. 1954 The following year there was a another very rare book put out titled life of saints I am looking to possibly sell them as a set. Paignpaul14@gmail.com

Chanda said...

Does anyone else's 1953 Catholic Family Edition have misprints in the books of Samuel?

Mine has the first 12 chapters of 1 Samuel, then it shows a repeat of the last 10 chapters of Judges, a repeat of Ruth, the first 12 chapters of Samuel again, and then 2 Samuel from chapter 4 and on.

So the pages go from 1-304, then page 273-304 are printed a second time, and then it goes straight to page 337.

I don't mind the repeats too much, but I hate that I'm missing the first 3 chapters of 2 Samuel.

I was wondering if this was a bizarre one-time misprint in my copy, or if all of them are like that.

rolf said...

My copy has all of the chapters of 1 Samuel in the propper order.

Traditional Catholic Sermons said...

My copy has all of the chapters of 1 Samual in the proper order, too.

Myrna Rollins said...

Good afternoon,
I was blessed and fortunate to have received a Douay-Confraternity Bible Copyrighted on April 10th, 1950. The book is in relatively good condition. Printers: P.J. Kennedy and Sons. No I'm not selling. Thank You

Tom C said...

I have this Bible in the brown cover Gutenburg Edition. Two small pamphlets were slipped inside, one describing the Bible's features and another which was an advertisement for the Life of Christ companion volume. There is at least one more companion book, a Lives of the Saints.

Here are some highlights from the Bible pamphlet:


The most beautiful of all Bibles.

The Catholic Family Bible brings you God's Word surrounded by the finest examples of the colorful religious art of the Middle Ages. It has been long felt that Catholics would prefer a Bible which avoided the somber austerity too often associated with Sacred Scriptures. When all of Europe was Catholic, Holy Mother Church guided her artists in the illustration of eternal truths. The objective, then, was simple - that the Bible should be the most beautiful of all books..."

Illustrations come from religious books from the 8th to the 16th century. Some mentioned are 15th-century copies of Bible Historiale by Petrus Comestor, Imagines Biblicae from the 13th-century, Clement Marot's 16th-century Thirty Psalms of David, The Gospel Book of Charlemagne and the 15th-century Grandes Heures de Rohan.

The maps are new and take into consideration recent archaeological discoveries that have rendered earlier maps obsolete.

Typefaces are Monotype Bembo, Poliphilus and Blado.

The notes for the Challoner-Douay translation are all new for this edition.

Book initials are mostly reproduced from a King Charles I Bible. Each initial shows through picture or theme the central theme of the book it introduces.

Chapter initial are reproduced from a series used in the Parisian printing shop of Gering and Reinbolt between 1494 and 1499.

Endpapers contain four great medieval stained glass windows: Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere from the choir aisle of Chartres, one from the 12th-century Cathedral of Poitiers, Christ in the Last Judgement from the Cathedral of Bourges and the Rose Window and lancets from the Cathedral of Amiens.

The Binding of the Gutenberg Edition is a direct adaptation of the binding of the Gutenberg Bible originally owned by the Benedictine Monks of St. Blasius. Its medallions showing the attributes of faith, hope, charity, and justice faithfully duplicate the hand-carved original. The Gregorian Edition is bound in Cardinal Red Morrocco Leather.

A new gold ink was developed that reproduces the gold of early manuscripts.