Take Your Bible in One Hand… was a special, limited edition book published by the Colt Press in 1939. Stewart was interested in the life of William Thomes, who wrote about Mexican California (sometimes factually, sometimes with imagination), but it’s not clear why this short but oversized finely printed book was published by Colt. Reading about Colt Press in the online archive of the Bancroft Library’s Regional Oral History Office’s oral history of Jane Grabhorn, conducted by Ruth Teiser, however, it’s easy to see that Stewart knew several of the people who were involved with the Press. William Wheat, James D. Hart, Joseph Bransten, and Joseph Henry Jackson were all friends of Stewart’s and they may have suggested the printing of the book.
Only 750 copies were published. They’re still available, at reasonable prices, if you’re interested in collecting. Jane Grabhorn was also connected with the better-known Grabhorn Press; some of the Grabhorn books go for substantially more than this one (and some for less). So if you’re a true Stewart fan, or a fan of fine small presses and their books, this is a good way to begin a collection.
It’s also an interesting book about Mexican California – so interesting that you can also buy a new reprint of the book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble!
Small presses, like the Colt Press, played another role in the work of George R. Stewart, as you may remember from an earlier post. When the big publishers dropped Earth Abides, Hermes Publications, Alan Ligda’s small fine press, bought the rights and kept the book in print. When the big publishers saw how well it sold, they bought the rights back. It’s still in print; thanks to Alan Ligda the book has never been out of print.