In 1987, the International Director of the World Bible Society, Dr. Craig
Lampe, decided to create a very special company. He approached his long-time
friend, Dr. Jonathan Byrd, and presented him the idea: to corner-the-market
on rare and antique Bibles, and set up an organization that would restore
and preserve the ancient printings of God’s Word for future generations,
and make these wonderful treasures available for sale. This new company
would be the world’s primary source for antiquarian Bibles.
Our Company History & Our Showroom
Dr. Byrd had just sold off all seven of his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises,
and was preparing the build the largest cafeteria in the United States.
You can read more about the intriguing story behind that cafeteria in
article from Guideposts Magazine. Jonathan Byrd Racing is also one
of the biggest names in Indy Car Racing, and Dr. Byrd was the 2002 pick
for the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame, which you
can read about here.
Dr. Byrd decided to fund Dr. Lampe’s idea, and “Jonathan
Byrd’s Rare Books & Bibles” was born. Originally, the
company had no public showroom or store-front. It was housed in a small
windowless storage room in the offices above Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria
in Greenwood, Indiana. The only way people found out about the company
at all was essentially through word-of-mouth referral… yet by 1989,
they were already the world’s largest dealer of rare and antique
Five years later, in 1994, John Jeffcoat took up the hobby of collecting old Bibles. After visiting more than twenty “rare book dealers” he was very discouraged to find that Bibles printed prior to the 1800’s seemed to be completely unavailable. In voicing this concern to one rare book dealer, he was told, “Of course you can’t find any ancient Bibles… one man has them all… but he will sell you whatever you want if you call him. His name is Dr. Craig Lampe… here’s his phone number.” Two brief phone calls later, John was in his car, driving over 1,200 miles round-trip, to see this little shop above a cafeteria that had managed to become a world-wide-near-monopoly in the niche market of rare and antique Bibles. Two days later, he returned home, having made the first of what would be tens of thousands of dollars in purchases from this wonderful little shop over the next few years.
In 1996, John Jeffcoat approached Dr. Lampe with an idea: to build a website that would showcase a sampling of the company’s inventory of ancient Bibles and Bible leaves, and through search engine listings and printed advertisements for the website, make this awesome material known and available to the public… world-wide. Through nothing less than divine providence, John was able to secure possession of the highly desirable URL address “GREATSITE.COM”, and a few weeks later, the virtual store was open for business. The response was so great, that within a few weeks, John quit his full-time job so he could handle the calls and emails that were coming in every day from around the world.
Much like John’s own personal experience two years earlier in suddenly
discovering the availability of these awesome rare Bibles… once
the availability of this material was made known to the world… many
people instantly became collectors. After all, what more rewarding hobby
could there be than collecting the earliest printings of God’s Word?
What more valuable and precious commodity is there? What better investment
or family heirloom?
With millions of dollars in annual sales, and a website drawing over
1,000 visitors per day, the world’s largest for-sale collection
of rare and antique Bibles now needed a store front showroom more elegant
than an unmarked storage room above a cafeteria. Fortunately, Dr. Byrd
had continued to expand his entrepreneurial ventures, and was now building
three new luxury Hotels in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.
In 1999, the company moved its headquarters from Greenwood, Indiana,
to Goodyear, Arizona. Our Rare Bible Showroom is now housed in the Grand
Lobby of one of Arizona’s most beautiful new hotels, where the showroom
is open for visitors 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, (though in-person
purchases can only be made during regular business hours). You may want
the article written about us in the Arizona Republic which details
how more than 50% of Jonathan Byrd’s profit is given to missionary
ministries each year, and so far the company profits have enabled us to
fund the printing and distribution of several million Bibles for missionaries
through groups like “The Bible League”, and to help found
the largest Christian Church in the predominantly Hindu nation of India. You may also want to read the Wall Street Journal article written about GREATSITE.COM.
If you would like to visit us and tour our Rare Bible Showroom and “Bookvault”,
and perhaps even stay the night in our Hotel, just CONTACT
US. We can also arrange to pick you up at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International
Airport, and give you free transportation to our facility which is only
20 minutes west of the airport, and less than one mile from Interstate
Each suite features an oversized whirlpool tub, large screen televisions,
and breathtaking views of the mountains and the world-class golf course
that surrounds the hotel. A beautiful center atrium with a pool, hot tub,
and exercise facility are on one side of the Rare Bible Showroom, and
for your convenience an in-house Avis Car Rental office is right across
the hallway by the 24-hour snack room and concierge desk. On the other
side of our lobby is our banquet facility, which can hold up to 500 people
for special events, such as our Bible
History Symposium which we hold about three times a year.
In 2004, due to ongoing health concerns, Dr. Jonathan Byrd retired, leaving his business empire to his sons, and selling his interest in the Rare Bible business to his business partner of many years, Dr. Craig Lampe. “Jonathan Byrd’s Rare Books & Bibles” was re-named “The Bible Museum, Inc.”, and is now fully-owned by Dr. Craig Lampe. World-wide sales, marketing, and customer service, is still handled exclusively by “Greatsite Marketing” at GREATSITE.COM which is owned by John Jeffcoat, who is also the Director of Marketing for The Bible Museum.
If you have any questions, please CONTACT
US any time.