Jesper Harding and his son William W. Harding, both of Philadelphia, were the leading commercial publishers of Bibles in the United States for many years, selling millions of copies from the 1820s to the 1870s. Harding Bibles were marketed as high-quality, relatively expensive editions. The 1867 edition shown here, with a red-and-black title page, is labeled a “Harding superfine,” although it does not match the frequently reissued Harding superfine edition of 1857.
Jesper Harding started his printing business at sixteen in about 1815, eventually establishing his own bindery and print shop. In the late 1820s, he began publishing Bibles and buying newspaper companies—including a six-month-old paper, The Pennsylvania Inquirer, that would become the flagship of the Harding publishing empire. Years later, William renamed it The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Harding Bibles reflect the orderly transition from Jesper to William on their title pages. They record the publisher’s name first as Jesper Harding, then Jesper Harding and Son, and finally—after Jesper Harding’s 1859 retirement—William W. Harding. William owned and operated the family business, including the Inquirer, until his retirement in 1889. He sold off the Harding Bible division about a decade earlier, in 1878, to A. J. Holman and Company—a publishing house formed by former Harding employees.