In 1812, the Philadelphia Bible Society, the first such society formed in the U.S., ordered a set of stereotype plates of the Bible produced by T. Rutt in London, and issued a stereotype edition of the Bible. The Society had made the decision to begin publishing editions of the Bible, rather than purchasing them, when they learned of the success of stereotyping by the improved Stanhope method that had been adopted by Cambridge University Press in England. The stereotype plates cost the society the equivalent of $3500, of which the British Foreign Bible Society contributed £500, and by special arrangement the plates were admitted to the U.S. free of import duties.
The Philadelphia Bible Society ordered 1050 copies of the complete Bible and 750 copies of the New Testament, in double columns, and set in very, very small type, the typesetting of which must have been a significant challenge to the vision and manual coordination of its typesetters in England. It is believed that these Bibles, printed in Philadelphia, in which the entire Old and New Testaments fit into one thick small 8vo volume, were the first books printed from stereotype plates printed in the U.S.