First Folio and First Illustrated Bible Printed in America
BIBLE IN ENGLISH. Christian's New and Complete Family Bible: or, the Universal Library of Divine Knowledge: Being a Clear, full and comprehensive Exposition and Commentary of the Holy Scriptures, Containing the Sacred Texts of the Old and New Testaments, with the Apocrypha at Large; Illustrated with Annotations and Commentaries...By Those Eminent Divines, Henry Doddridge, Gill, Brown, &c. &c.... Philadelphia: Printed for the Proprietors; and Sold by all the Booksellers in the United State , 1788- [1790].
First edition of the first folio Bible printed in America, also the first illustrated Bible printed in America. Folio (16 5/16 x 10 1/8 inches; 415 x 255 mm). [A]?, B-9O?, A-2I?, [A]?, B-3H?. Also contains a duplicate set of signatures 5I-5N2 not included in collation. 2H missigned '2G' and 2K missigned '2L' in New Testament, same as Hills bibliography. Illustrated with twenty-eight engraved plates.

Original American calf, rebacked to style. Red morocco spine label. Spine lettered and stamped in gilt. Bible complete with 28 plates and 570 leaves. Our general title is not a cancel unlike the Library Company of Philadelphia's copies. Although some of the plates are signed London, they were probably brought to America to be printed there.

With some staining and browning throughout. Professional restoration to the frontispiece, title-page of the Old Testament and"To the Christian Reader." Plates II, III, IV, V, VI, IX, XIII, XX, XXI, XXIII, XXIV, and XXVI all with some professional restoration. Many leaves with small closed tears and corners with professional repairs. Over all very good.

There has been some controversy as to whether all, none or only some of the sheets were printed in America. In a correspondence with James Green from the Library Company of Philadelphia, he indicates that they have three variant copies of this bible, all with the Berwick New Testament as follows: 1. Main title-page with Berwick imprint, with no cancel title and no date, printed on English paper and sold by the booksellers of London, Edinburgh, Glasgow.... 2. Main title-page with Berwick imprint, has canceled title and sold by the booksellers of Edinburgh and London, 1788. And A-P and another copy with A-Rr on American paper. In the Library Company of Philadelphia copies "A minimum of the first eight parts were printed in America" * Only in some copies. "Other copies have different setting of type, printed on English paper." 3. Main title-page with Philadelphia imprint has canceled title and printed on English paper. All copies are from local provenance.

The first announcement of the Bible appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser for November 15, 1788. The advertisement stated, “This day is published by W. Woodhouse, Bookseller, Front-Street, next door to the Coffee House [Price Eleven Pence.] Number I. (To be returned if not approved of) Of The Christian's New and Complete Family Bible...The whole shall be comprised in seventy-five numbers, at one eighth of a dollar each. A number shall be delivered every Saturday Morning... Number I will be published on Saturday Nov. 15. With which will be given an elegant Frontispiece-And subsequent numbers regularly every week until the work is completed...” The next announcement was on January 3, 1789 “This day published...Number Eight...” If on January 3rd Woodhouse had all eight parts printed, he would have tried to sell all eight parts at once. To commit to a new part each Saturday must indicate that he was printing a new part every week. It takes seven weeks to travel under the best conditions and eight to twelve weeks in unfavorable winds between England and Philadelphia. (Mittelberger, G. Journey to Pennsylvania. Harvard University Press, 1960). If part of the bible had been printed in Berwick or London, it would have taken a minimum of fourteen weeks to coordinate the printing (seven weeks going and seven weeks coming). This means that in on November 15th 1788, when the first announcement was made for part one, to January 10, 1789 when the next part was due, part nine would have had to leave Europe eight weeks prior to November 15, 1788. The signatures (used by printers to keep sheets in order) are consecutive throughout the entire bible. If some part if the bible were printed in Europe, how would they have known where the American printer stopped? Again on April 25, 1789 in the Pennsylvania Packet, it was announced that part twenty-four was complete, and then again on May 23, 1789 (about four weeks later) this same paper announced that part forty-five was complete. Based on the number of parts and the number of pages, it can be estimated that each part was six to eight leaves. Therefore we must assume that at least the first forty-eight to sixty-four leaves were surely printed in America. There is no discernable difference between the first sixty-four leaves and the rest of the bible. The leaves, although having several English watermarks and some watermarks which read "IT" (Isaiah Thomas), appear to be similar, if not exact in format and type block throughout. (A Catalogue of American Watermarks 1690-1835, Gravell & Miller, Page; 351).

We now turn to the question of why the occurrence of the Berwick New Testament and London and Berwick main title-pages. On May 27, 1790 a committee was formed on behalf of the Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts to “prepare, sign, and transmit to the Congress of the United States a petition requesting...that no Edition of the Bible or its translation be published in America without its being carefully inspected and certified to be free from error.” (Senate Journal, 107). This petition was presented in the senate on June 10, 1790, where the Senate “Ordered it to lie for consideration” (O'Callaghan introduction, pg. xxxix). It is my conjecture that at this time, Woodhouse would have completed only about forty parts of his bible and had not yet printed the New Testament. The older brother of John Taylor of Berwick worked as a printer for Woodhouse (Hunt, Book Trade in Northumberland). Based on the possibilities that Congress may pass a law satisfying the Congressional Ministers, Woodhouse would have printed a foreign title on all the New Testaments not yet printed and canceled all the General title-pages not yet sold to be replaced with Berwick on the title. Those first parts that had already been sold could not be changed, such as our current copy.

There is no question that Woodhouse had good reason to be concerned about so expensive an undertaking as a folio bible when you consider that Mathew Carey of Philadelphia observed in his narrative after examining eighteen various editions of the bible “An extraordinary number of discrepancies, some of which are incredible.” O'Callaghan, xlii). He then goes on to say “I will venture to say that no work equally voluminous ever was so” referring to bibles being free from error (O;Callaghan, xliii). Any bible not published in America of course would not be subject to any such scrutiny. In May of 1791 Congress member John Lathrop responded to a letter from a concerned publisher Isaiah Thomas with the following “they [Congress] conceive there would be an impropriety in their appointing a Committee if their own Body to supervise the editors of the Bible...” (O'Callaghan, xlii). And on December 15, 1791 Congress passed the first amendment, the Separation of Church and State.

Analysis: By any analysis, this is a rare bible. OCLC lists only two copies other than the two described above. Isaiah Thomas's folio Bible of 1791 shows up at auction twenty times since 1940, and there is no appearance of this bible at auction in that time, which is as far back as I can go. Based on the following reasons, I am convinced that the entire bible was printed in America. 1. It would have been cheaper to print the bible in America than London or Berwick. 2. A minimum of the first eight parts were printed in America, in some bibles A-Rr were on American paper. This being the case, why not the remainder of the bible? Certainly it would not have been printed in Europe on American paper. 3. All text block in this copy are the same measurements and format, and the signatures are consecutive. 4. There was good reason to have the New Testament printed with a Berwick imprint. I submit that the entire bible was printed in America.

Herbert 1323. OCLC 12858804. Sabin 12929. Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser: November 15, 1788; January 3, 1789; April 25, 1789; May 23, 1789; October 21, 1789; May 26, 1790; October 6, 1790., A List of Editions of the Holy Scriptures, O'Callaghan, xxiv-xliii. The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1908. (A Catalogue of American Watermarks 1690-1835, Gravell & Miller, Page; 351).

Herbert 1323. OCLC 12858804. Sabin 12929. O'Callaghan, pg 35, 2

HBS # 68084 $85,000