The Historic Booklet Gallery
For many years, Scripture Gift Mission had a Bible showroom at its central office in London. The showroom featured Bibles in many languages, with information about missionary action around the world. Out the front was a display case with a ‘verse for the day’ for passers-by to read. We don’t have either of those any more, but we do have a rich legacy of Bible literature. Here are just a few of the 22,000 different titles in the SGM archive.
SGMâ€™s earliest titles were illustrated gospels and new testaments in short instalments, aiming to make the Bible â€˜more readable and interestingâ€™ for those who were not used to reading.
Those small instalments were given away in homeless shelters and prisons. To fund the free distribution, higher quality Bible portions were printed for sale, including Gospels, New Testaments and whole Bibles.
The First World War saw the production of millions of items for troops, through SGMâ€™s sister organisation the Naval, Military and Air Force Bible Society.
The first booklets of compiled verses appeared in the 1920s, and soon became the missionâ€™s speciality.
The first was God Hath Spoken, a sixteen page summary of the Gospel written by the founderâ€™s son, W G Walters.
The Way of Salvation was the second
compilation title. It was written by Miss Agnes Boys, who always wanted to be a missionary in China, but was kept at home by a long term illness. She wrote Way of Salvation for the missionaries she knew in Shanghai, working with the China Inland Mission. It was published in Chinese first, and then English, and went on to be published in 277 languages in the following decades.
Popular booklets have been widely translated, with designs tweaked to make them locally relevant. This edition of Way of Salvation was for the Shan people of Myanmar. The Shan are famous for their goldsmithing and metal work, so the cover is a metallic gold to give the booklet a sense of value.
Way of Salvation, Shan, Burma, 1995
Way of Salvation, Inuktitut, Canada, 1970s
Way of Salvation, Indonesia, 1975
SGMâ€™s third booklet compilation was called Words of Comfort and Consolation. It is attributed to the father of Sir William Fry, a prominent member of the Brethren church in Ireland. He compiled it in the 1850s as something to give away on his travels. He wanted a Bible booklet that would not be intimidating, so he wrote a short booklet with verses for each day of the month. It has gone through many editions and is still in print today, under the title Daily Strength.
Daily Strength in Karen Sâ€™Gaw, Myanmar, 1983
Daily Strength in Russian, 2004
In some parts of the world, it isnâ€™t safe to distribute the Bible openly. In those countries, SGM booklets are printed with no logos or address details. To protect those using them, we are often unable to mention the booklets at all.
Markâ€™s Gospel, Central Asian minority language, 1992
When a closed country opens up to Christianity, there are new opportunities for outreach and missionary work. SGM has responded with new resources at key moments. In 1991 there were just five known Christians in Mongolia. Five years later there were 3,000.
Why Me?, Mongolian, 1996
SGM has published resources in hundreds of minority languages, including many Pioneer translations - the first time that any Scripture has been available in that language.
Some of these language groups are very small. At the last time of counting, Thayorre had just 150 speakers remaining
Four Things in Thayorre, Australia, 1991
Some countries have a remarkable diversity of languages. The most extreme is Papua New Guinea, which has 862 separate languages.
New Start in Tok Pisin, PNG, 1994
Many of SGMâ€™s titles were produced for special occasions or as commemorative titles for sporting events, anniversaries or royal weddings.
Festival of Britain, 1951
Let Freedom Reign commemorates the US bicentennial in 1976