Take, Oh take the gift I bring! - Not
the blushing rose of spring,
Not a gem from India's cave, Not the coral
of the wave -
Not a wreath to deck thy brow, Not a ring
to bind thy vow, -
Brighter is the gift I bring, Friendship's
Take the BOOK! Oh, may it be - Treasured
long and near by thee!
Keep, oh keep the gift I bring, - Love
and friendship's offering!
The Temperance Token or Crystal
Drops From the Old Oaken Bucket; edited
by Kate Barklay
(George H. Derby and Co., 1846)
of The Cornwall Press told both Bill and Hank that he could
not go ahead with the book printing until and unless they came
up with some money. At least enough to cover the cost of the
paper. Both men pleaded with Blackwell. Both had come this far.
Could he not do them a favor for this worthwhile cause, they
asked? They tried many sales ploys, and even dropped the name
of Mr. Rockefeller. But Blackwell was not about to print the
book on credit. He held fast to his requirement for payment
up front. Bill and Hank drove back down to New York, disappointed
once again. Disappointed but not undaunted.
of shares of Works Publishing, Inc. were progressing very slowly.
According to a printed financial statement that was issued in
June 1940, there were at that time six hundred and sixty shares
sold. Four hundred and five of them were owned by the Alcoholic
Foundation. Forty-four individuals had subscribed to, and purchased
one hundred and seventy-four shares. Five individuals received
eighty-one shares given to them for "services rendered."
dollars par share, the total share offering should have produced
$16,500. But, as of June 30, 1940, only $4,450 had been received.
time the book was being printed, less than six hundred and sixty
shares had been sold. The multilith printing had cost one hundred
and sixty-five dollars to print. And this was for four hundred
1940, the Cornwall Press had been paid two thousand four hundred
fourteen dollars and seventy-one cents. (This included the printing
plates which had been valued at $825.) All of this outlay of
money; but not a single book had been ordered.
Wilson had loaned the movement one hundred dollars. Charles
B. Towns of Towns Hospital loaned the Foundation two thousand,
five hundred and thirty-nine dollars. A Mr. William Cochran
loaned another one thousand dollars.
of the Cochran Art School of Washington, D.C., had been persuaded
to loan the Foundation $1,000 at the insistence of Agnes M.
Agnes was the administrator of Cochran's school and was the
sister of Fitz M. whom Bill had helped sober up in New York.
Agnes had been so grateful for her brother's rebirth that she
did all that she could do to help.
and finally the Foundation finally did manage to raise the necessary
funds to cover the initial printing costs. Bill, Hank, Dorothy
Snyder (Clarence's wife, who at that time was visiting with
her sister in Yonkers, NY) and Ruth Hock went to Cornwall, New
York to oversee the printing of the book. This was the first
of many trips made to the little hamlet of Cornwall before the
final galleys for the book were approved as ready.
had been ordered. The book was to be printed in the thickest,
cheapest paper possible. Bill, Hank, Dorothy and Ruth wanted
to have the book appear much larger than its approximate four
hundred pages. They wanted potential purchasers to believe they
were getting something substantial for their money.
Book's girth was expanded even greater by having the printer
print each page with unusually large margins surrounding the
text. This promised a very large and heavy volume. Thus, the
book come to be known as the "Big Book."
binding was red in color. Blackwell had an overage of red and
explained to Bill and Hank that he would give them a special
deal on this material. Ever cost conscious, Bill and Hank accepted.
In fact, they even felt the color red would make the book more
attractive and marketable. Red stood for royalty, so they thought.
printing was the only one on which a red binding was used. All
the other bindings, except for that used with the fourth printing
were in various shades of blue. The fourth printing, due to
another overstock of binding material and thus, lower cost,
was bound in blue as well as in green.
was a typographical error in the first printing; despite all
efforts to an even-free volume. On page 234, the second and
third line from the bottom was printed twice. This error was
removed from subsequent editions.
York City based artist and member of the Fellowship, Ray C.,
was asked to design the Dust Jacket. He submitted a few different
ideas for consideration. These included one which was blue and
in an Art Deco motif, and another which was red, yellow and
black with a minimum of white. The latter had the words Alcoholics
Anonymous printed across the top in large white script.
and Bill chose the red, yellow and black mock-up: And the jacket
became known as the "Circus" jacket due to its loud and circus-style
colors. Bill and Hank felt this dust jacket stood out and was
eye catching. The unused blue jacket is still located at the
Archives at the Stepping Stones Foundation.
story, "AN ARTISTS CONCEPT" appeared only in the first sixteen
printings of the First Edition. His story was preceded with
a quote. "There is a principle which is a bar against all
information, which is proof against all arguments and which
can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle
is contempt prior to investigation." It says there it was
from Herbert Spencer, though nobody has yet to find this quote
in any of Mr. Spencer's works.
Ray's story was removed from the Second edition, the "Spencer
quote" was retained. And it can now be found at the end of Appendix
II, ("Spiritual Experience") in the Big Book at page 570.
were ready to go. They had a book that told of their experiences.
They had a program of recovery that was outlined within the
pages of the book. And they were conducting meetings of the
alcoholic squadron of the Oxford Group. But even though there
was an Alcoholic Foundation and references had been made in
correspondence to "we of Alcoholics Anonymous," the alcoholics
meetings were not yet actually called those of "Alcoholics Anonymous"
or "A.A. meetings." But the gatherings were being held in both
Brooklyn, New York and Akron, Ohio.
and Hank had sent out four hundred copies of the multilith (which
promised a book to follow when it was finally published). They
sent letters and post cards to doctors, clergy and others. They
sat back and waited for their Post Office to deliver sacks of
mail containing thousands of orders for their books. And with
the thousands of orders, they also expected thousands of dollars
which would accompany them.
waited and waited. Each day they called the Post Office, asking
where the responses were. They were often told that none had
arrived. Four thousand seven hundred and thirty books had been
printed. Yet as of June 30, 1940, only two thousand, four hundred
and five had been sold. They recorded "163 books outstanding
against accounts receivable," and they recorded that two hundred
seventy-nine books had been distributed free of charge.
words, from the publication of the first printing in April 1939
through June 30, 1940, a period of fourteen months, Bill and
Hank still had one thousand eight hundred and eighty-three copies
and Hank were once again dejected. Cartons upon cartons of books
remained in stock in Cornwall, New York. Ed Blackwell would
only release books that had already been paid for. Thus, unless
the Foundation sold some from their stocks, they couldn't sell
the remaining volumes in Cornwall. "You've got to have money
to make money," they must have thought.
time, the New York contingent was having major doubts they would
even get back their hard earned investment. They also began
to doubt Bill.
Doc was also feeling heat from Ohio members who had invested.
Though these people were still attending the Oxford Group meetings
at T. Henry and Clarace Williams' home, they had hoped on something
more when the book came out. They weren't sure what that something
was; but it would come, they believed.
to all something was about to happen. Something that
would change the course of the history of the yet unnamed fellowship.
That something would come the very next month.