Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oswald Avery's connection to Haldeman-Julius

It seems an unlikely connection, but there does exist a tenuous connection between two of our favorites here at the online edition of the Arcadian Recorder.

Oswald Avery's grandfather was publicly credited as having helped perfect the successful printing of tiny, light, complete, readable bibles on India Paper and thus helping to secure the fortunes of the hitherto hapless Oxford University Press.

Since OUP, as it is usually known in the book trade, is today one of the most valuable trademarks in the world, this is a story worth recalling.

OUP gained this rise to world prominence based on its exclusive hold on the secret knowledge required to make India paper - a incredibly thin, flexible, strong and yet opaque & non-yellowing paper made out of old hemp ropes and lots of lime.

It allowed you to pack in a million readable words (like the Bible) in a small, light but permanently readable book - perfect for shipping in mass quantities across the world on a very tight budget.

For Christian evangelicals determined to 'evangelize the world in one generation' it was - literally - a God-sent paper.

OUP quickly sold millions of its lightweight bibles, dictionaries and reference books based on the use of this paper.

Haldeman-Julius couldn't afford the price of this paper and expect to keep selling his 'little blue books' at the price of an American nickel shipped post-paid worldwide.

But his mind moved along the same lines of constantly seeking ways to 'mass-evangelize the world' at a reasonable price.

His book-making frugality matched and even exceeded those of his competitors in the world of Christian bible and tract makers.

I say 'competitors' because of course the personal dogma of Haldeman-Julius that drove him to be equally frugal in his printing methods was simply this: " There is no Christian God" !

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