Take a trip through the history of the organization as seen through it's publications!
The publications of the Watchtower, Bible and Tract Society are more than just collectible, they tell a story that reaches back to the earliest days and provide a unique look at the way the organization grew and progressed! There were hundreds of historic books, booklets, magazines, brochures, tracts and recordings produced since the mid 1800's, and some of the most historic are also the most rare. So I decided to put together this "museum" of Society publications, a historical time-line of the most important publications and how they fit in to the development of pure worship in modern times!
COME BACK OFTEN - Our museum is an ongoing project, and more historic material is coming soon! You should also sign up for the newsletter (Click Here) to be the first to find out about new treasures as they are added!
The C.T.Russell Era: This was the first part of the organization's history and actually predates Russell himself in that it includes the early writings that Russell discovered in his search for the truth and made wide use of in his later work. This era saw the birth of the Watchtower magazine and the iconic Millennial Dawn and Studies in the Scriptures sets, as well as widespread use of newspapers, but was a time when many beliefs and traditions of Christendom were still accepted within the organization.
The J.F.Rutherford Era: After the death of Russell, the leadership of the organization fell to Rutherford, who immediately faced outright revolt from those who venerated Russell and opposed the refinements that were ahead. This era produced an astonishing amount of publications, including the "Rainbow Books" series that replaced Studies in the Scriptures, as well as countless booklets on timely subjects for the quickly expanding field ministry. It also saw the wide use of radio and phonograph sermons. Many unbiblical traditions were done away with, exposing the true motives of many who became disenfranchised by the changes.
Post Rutherford Era: This era began with WWII and saw the greatest persecution and the greatest growth up to that time as far greater emphasis was placed on the door-to-door ministry and the faith of many was tested by violent opposition. The conventions held during the post-war years are still remembered for their massive attendance and historic discourses. Home bible studies became common and several special books were produced for this purpose. Perhaps the greatest achievement of this era was the release of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
The C.T. Russell Era
NOTE: While most of what we offer are ORIGINALS, many of the items below are so rare they are only available in REPRODUCTIONS. If a publication is not an original, it will be CLEARLY indicated. Otherwise, everything in our store is the real thing!
Most have heard the story of how Charles Taze Russell's first began a sincere study of the Bible. He was walking down the street one evening in Pittsburg, when he heard a dynamic speaker giving a sermon in a meeting hall. That speaker was Jonas Wendell, a Second Day Adventist, and while Russell didn't agree with all he said, he was intrigued by this preacher's thoughts about the second coming of Christ- far different from the traditions of the major religions that Russell had become so disenfranchised by. He wanted to learn more, and his bible study began....
Click here to get a copy of Jonas Wendell's 1873 booklet: One of the most obscure of all publications with a connection to the early years, this publication gives us a glimpse at what moved Russell to begin studying the bible again. (This is a reproduction of the original 1873 booklet)
The words of Jonas Wendell were the beginning, but his reading soon led him to some old pamphlets written by another bible student, a grandfatherly old scholar named Henry Grew. Grew was a dim light in a religiously dark world, speaking out against false doctrines like the trinity decades before Russell was even born. His booklets opened Russell's eyes to the spiritual truths that were just waiting for him to discover...
Henry Grew didn't only influence Russell. Another sincere bible student came upon one of his booklets while riding a train in the 1860's. What he learned moved him to study the bible with renewed vigor as well, and soon he was publishing a regular religious journal, The Bible Examiner. His name was George Storrs, and when the young C.T. Russell met him in the 1870's, he was a respected bible scholar, and the two became close friends. It was in the columns of The Bible Examiner that Russell wrote his first published articles on his new bible research.
As his knowledge grew, so did his desire to devour every publication that was recommended to him. The writings of Joseph Seiss were particularly interesting to Russell, who was beginning to see that God not only had a plan form mankind, but had revealed it. One needed only look in the proper places....
Here we have the books of Seiss & others: These were highly thought of by scholars back then, and had a great influence on Russell, who quoted from them extensively in the early days. How strange they are to us, now that our understanding of scriptual truths have become clearer!
Another publication that Russell came into contact with in these early days was a simple Adventist journal called Herald of the Morning. It's writer was a man named Nelson Barbour, and he quickly became friends with Russell. Barbour directed Russell to other like minded students of the bible, including another young man named J.H. Patton and others. At Russell's urging, and with his financial backing, the Herald was revived, Barber and Russell as it's editors, and Patton as one of its main contributors...
The Herald proved to be a useful way to bring together sincere bible students scattered through the area where the journal could reach, but it wasn't enough. By this time the truths that these earliest bible students were discovering had grown to a burning fire inside them that had to get out to as many as possible. So in 1877 Russell and Barber co-wrote their first book: The Three Worlds...
Here you can find an actual copy of Three Worlds!: Only a few of the originals still exist- we got our hands on one and here is an actual photocopy! It is interesting to see how his understanding was progressing, and the influence that the older Babour had on him in these early days.
Perhaps it was during the preparation of that first book that the once very close relationship between Russell and Barbour began to cool. Russell had already begun working on his own independent book, which he may have completed as early as 1873. It was titled The Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return...
HERE IT IS!: There are only two confirmed originals of this publication know to collectors! We got an actual photocopy of it! When I started collecting I never dreamed I'd ever get to read Russell's first book- what a piece of history it is!
Everything came to a head in 1879 when Russell was forced to write an article in the Herald, refuting one written by Barbour denying the ransom sacrifice by comparing it to piercing a fly with a pin. The break soon followed. Russell left the Herald in June and took with him his financial backing, as well as the subscriber's list...
Here's what Russell did with that subscriberl list: We found the text of the letter Russell wrote to the subscribers of the Herald, detailing why he was leaving and telling them how they could still continue learning with him. He referred to this mailing in the very first issue of the Watch Tower!
In July 1879, Russell published the very first issue of Zion's Watch Tower, a journal that allowed him to reach even further to gather those he was sure were hungering for bible truths. Soon a healthy subscribers list had developed, and a new issue was going out every month, full of gleanings from the small group's bible study...
Here you can find a copy of that very first issue!: This is a collector's dream, a photo copy of the very first Watch Tower magazine. I have only ever seen one up for sale. In 2007 the July and August issues sold together for over $11,000 on eBay- they are that desired by collectors!
In the meantime, J.H. Patton had left the Herald as well, and began writing in the columns of The Watch Tower. But he had also been writing his own book, and in 1880, with Russell’s blessing, Day Dawn was published. It was a huge success, and quickly became a primary study book for many of the early bible students...
Click here for the original 1880 Day Dawn: This edition was the one Russell and Patton offered to Watch Tower subscribers. Patton went on to publish another edition with his own ideas inserted. Russell rejected it, making this 1st edition the only one used by the Bible Students!
But still, Russell was learning more about God's ultimate plan for mankind. He began referring to it as the Plan of the Ages, and wanted to release a publication that began spelling it all out. With the supply of Object & Manner booklets exhausted, Russell and his associates began work on a new publication. Food for Thinking Christians was designed to make the followers of Christendom think about just what they were being taught, and how it contradicted the real plan of God...
Here you can find Food For Thinking Christians: A lot of these were printed, but only a few survive. It was replaced by M. Dawn and a lot of bible students discarded their tattered copies. So reading it today is a real treat- and an interesting look back in time!
By now, various small groups had began to form around the eastern United States, made up of Watch Tower subscribers who were encouraged to gather and discuss what they were learning. Study had advanced well beyond the basic, as could be seen by the release of The Tabernacle and it's Teachings in 1882...
This obscure booklet is right here for you to own!: Tabernacle Teachings was only produced for a very short time, then it was updated and became Tabernacle Shadows. So the old one is an EXTREMELY rare bit of history! We finally found it and reproduced it for you to add to your library!
The supply of Food for Thinking Christians was quickly exhausted, and plans for a revised edition of Day Dawn had been abandoned. So Russell turned his attention to a new project, what was intended to be the main study aid for all of the bible students. In April of 1882 he announced that it would be a publication full of some of what was already printed (in Food for Thinking Christians), as well as a clearer discussion of God's plan, an in depth discussion of Revelation, a look at the teachings of Christ, and a new discussion of bible chronology and time prophecies. It would be a complete bible student's library, in one volume, called Millennial Day Dawn. The readers of the Watch Tower eagerly waited as months passed. Then a year, then two years, three years...FOUR years. Had Russell bitten off more than he could chew? Finally, in 1886, the first part of the new work, which had grown to a multivolume set titled Millennial Dawn, was released...
Click here to see our current selection of ORIGINAL Millennial Dawns: Volume 1 is rare, volumes 2 & 3 are REALLY rare, volumes 4 & 5 are almost unheard of any more, and volume 6 is one of those books that even the most serious collector dreams about owning! Our selection changes as we find them, and they don't last long- so grab it if we have it- and check back often!
Many beginning collectors get confused here... they wonder what the difference is between Millennial Dawn and Studies in the Scriptures. Well, the answer is simple: As far as text goes, they're virtually the same books. But shortly after the turn of the century, so much opposition had built against Russell and his "Millennial Dawners" that he decided to change the title. The new name (Studies in the Scriptures) and bright maroon cover helped to dispell some of the bias a pontential reader may have, and proved to be very successful in getting his books into the hands of many thousands of sincere bible students...
The opposition didn't end when Russell changed the name of Millennial Dawn to Studies in the Scriptures. In fact, the prominent religious leaders of the day were alarmend at the growth being experianced by the early Bible Student study groups. Russell himself became their target and a number of ministers made public attacks on his teachings, and on him personally...
And here is the famous Russell / White Debate: While this strong willed minister declared himself a winner and had the entire debate printed up from transcritps made at the time, reading it reveals an entirely different story, as once again Russell showed that even Christendom's strongest debaters could not stand up agains simple bible truths.
Unable to destroy the Bible Students by public attacks, the opposition set its sights on an attack from within- and one of the least known, yet most facinating moments in the organization's early history occured. Facing accusations from ambitious individuals who were once his close friends, Russell went on the offensive and exposed the whole matter, trusting in the readers of the Watch Tower to judge for himself what was really going on...
Here you'll find the 1894 booklet- A Conspiracy Exposed: Sent to every subscriber as a special suppliment to the Watch Tower, this publication held nothing back, exposing the individuals who were attacking Russell, the reason they were doing it, and even the very personal matters that were involved. It is a look at the inner workings of the Bible Students, and a skilled defense of pure worship!
Of course, the attacks on Russell and the new Bible Students did nothing to slow the work being accomplished. In 1892 Russell wrote a detailed look at the temple and priesthood of ancient Israel. In an update for the short lived book Tabernacle Teachings, he explained the prophetic meaning of even the smallest feature of the Priests' garmets and the temple alter...
Click here to see Russell's guide book for the early "Chart Classes": Three Discourses on the Chart of Ages was a booklet written by Russell to help unite the scattered groups with the first standardized meeting program. It contains three seperate outilnes for the speaker to use, along with the Chart of the Ages, to conduct a meeting and educate people about God's plan.
As the 1890's brought new growth to the Watch Tower subscribers list, and study aids began to make the groups united in their teachings, a need was seen to make more publications that could be obtained by readers and used in a public ministry, not too different from the door to door work engaged in today. To that end, a series of tracts were released, one every few months, and sent free of charge to every reader. Originally called "Bible Student's Tracts", they soon were titled Old Theology Quarterly. Some were as simple as a two sided tract, others were nearly a 100 pages long, ALL of them are extremely rare today! Among the first were four of the most famous booklets Russell ever wrote ...
Click here for What Say The Scriptures About Hell: This booklet was always considered one of Russell's masterpieces, and it was widely distributed both as an Old Theology Quarterly and as a stand alone publication. It was reprinted several times, but only a limited amount of originals still exist.
HERE ARE A LOT OF OTHER OLD THEOLOGY QUARTERLYS: In total there were 83 OTQ tracts and booklets produced between 1881 and 1908, some of which have never been seen since! We have gone to great lengths to find as many as we can, and as we get them we add them to the store.
THIS SECTION IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION- Check back in a few days for the rest of the CT Russell era. In the meantime, here's a Quick Guide to Russell’s Publications…
Earliest: The first published writings of Russell were in periodicals like The Bible Examiner. Then in the mid-1870’s he began working with N.H. Barbour on Herald of the Morning. At the same time he wrote his first booklet, called The Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return (1877) and the same year he and Barbour finished Three Worlds. These first writings are extremely rare, so much so that you can count existing copies on one hand.
Zion’s Watchtower: The first issue was July 1879, and it was published monthly until the 1880’s, when it went to every two weeks. The first years were printed in a large format, and they are as scarce as any publication from the era. Only one copy of the 1879 issues is know to exist- in Brooklyn! There were several cover changes along the way, and some issues were combined, while others were released as special edition books. Compiling a complete set is virtually impossible before 1900, but after the turn of the century it gets easier.
Millennial Dawn: First released in the 1880’s, each volume was very highly anticipated, and subscribers eagerly scanned the Watch Tower’s columns for updates. Six volumes were produced, and they were available in several styles. The greenish-blue hardcover was the most common, but there was also editions in leather, leatherette, paperback, and a gold lettered spine. Volume one (Plan of the Ages) is the most common, closely followed by 2 and 3. But volumes 4-6 are very hard to find in any style.
Studies in the Scriptures: Shortly after the turn of the century, the negative publicity spread by the Society’s critics, led to a feeling of prejudice toward the name Millennial Dawn, so Russell began experimenting with a new title for his set- Studies in the Scriptures. They were first released in limited numbers with a red cover and the same silver lettering as the Dawn cover. Shortly thereafter Millennial Dawn was discontinued. These first Studies are called "Silver Lamp" edition because of the design on the spine. Volumes 1-3 are quite common, but 4-6 are almost as rare as the Dawn editions. By 1910 Russell began designing a new cover style with a "winged disc" design. These became the standard for the rest of his lifetime. Other editions included leather, pocket size in leather, red or black, paperback, and a widely circulated hardcover edition with a "box" around the title. The 7th volume (Finished Mystery) was not released until after his death.
Tracts: A large assortment of tracts were produced in the Russell years, and all of them are hard to find. The most common were Old Theology Quarterly which were sent to subscribers ever three months and used in the earliest preaching work. Regular tabloid sized journals like People’s Pulpit, Bible Students Monthly and Everybody’s Paper replaced Old Theology Quarterly in time, but received limited circulation and are very difficult to find today.
Other Books & Booklets: During the Russell era, it was not uncommon for other prominent Bible Students to write books and booklets that were circulated by the Society. The Edgar Brothers wrote a number of books on the Great Pyramid, L.W. Jones wrote convention reports, Paton and others wrote some of the earliest publications. Russell himself wrote a lot of various booklets, as did the young Rutherford under Russell’s direction. Songbooks, Daily Manna birthday books, even Christmas cards, wall hangings, hat pins, olivewood paperweights, wheat & barley seed… you name it, it was sold through the Watchtower.
Bibles: In the years before the New World Translation, the society made use of a number of bibles. Russell bought in quantity and sold certain bibles at cost through the Watchtower. Some were very unique, others were more common among other religions as well. Concordances and other reference works were also sold. Serious collectors go to great lengths to acquire all of the editions of these bibles and books that were offered in the Russell years.
The Photo Drama: Every collector dreams about the legendary Photo Drama of Creation, and it is available on computer CD. But few know that there are a lot of related collectables out there. The companion book to the original drama was released in 1914, and came in several styles. "Pax" pins were handed out at showings, tickets and posters were printed, there were even postcards and lithographs produced! Some can even find original slides and other items used by the society in showings. Without a doubt, this is one of the most exciting parts of the C.T. Russell Era!
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The best way to enjoy our store is to select one of the four main sections below. Spend some time there, we've gone to a lot of trouble to make it more than a list of publications- it's also a fascinating journey through that era of the Society's history!