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    The First Bible Printed in New York, With President George Washington the First Subscriber

    [Bible in English]. The Self-Interpreting Bible: Containing, the Sacred Text of the Old and New Testaments. Translated from the Original Tongues, and with the former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised. To which are annexed, Marginal References and Illustrations, an Exact Summary of the Several Books, a Paraphrase on the Most Obscure or Important Parts, an Analysis of the Contents of Each Chapter, Explanatory Notes, and Evangelical Reflections... New-York: Printed by Hodge and Campbell, and Sold at their respective Book Stores, 1792.

    The first Bible printed in New York (first published in 1778 in Edinburgh). Two parts in one large folio volume (16.125 x 9.875 inches). [1046] pages. Text in double columns. Twenty engraved plates, including frontispiece and "Accurate Map of the Holy Land," by William Dunlap, Abraham Godwin, Cornelius Tiebout, William Rollinson, Peter Maverick, and Amos Doolittle. The Apocrypha and The New Testament are signed separately, the New Testament with special title-page. The "List of the Names of the Subscribers to the American Edition of Brown's Family Bible" ([8] pp). is bound before the introduction in this copy, with "George Washington, Esq. President of the United States of America" listed as the first subscriber.

    Contemporary mottled calf. Covers decoratively bordered in gilt and blind, spine decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments with brown leather label decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt, board edges tooled in gilt. Red roan label on front cover ruled and lettered in gilt: Edward & Sarah Shields. Marbled edges and endpapers. The binding is rubbed and worn, with the spine detached at the front joint, the front board still holding. Frontispiece cut and mounted. Some light to moderate foxing and browning, slight offsetting from the plates. Slight dampstain and short tear to the map of the Holy Land, a few additional mostly marginal tears. An excellent example of an eighteenth-century family Bible.

    Following The Apocrypha are two blank leaves inscribed in ink with the family history of Edward and Sarah Shields, beginning with Edward Shields (1765-1809) and Sarah (d. 1806) and ending with Thomas Green (who married their daughter Mary in 1827). Laid in is the printed marriage certificate, dated May 7th 1827, of Mr. Thomas Green and Miss Mary Shields.

    "In 1778 [Scottish divine John Brown's (1722-1787)] best-known work, the 'Self-interpreting Bible,' was published at Edinburgh in two volumes. Its design, he explains in the preface, is to present the labours of the best commentators 'in a manner that might best comport with the ability and leisure of the poorer and labouring part of mankind, and especially to render the oracles of God their own interpreter.' Thus the work contains history, chronology, geography, summaries, explanatory notes, and reflections-in short, everything that the ordinary reader might be supposed to want. It is a library in one volume. Brown is always ready to give what he believes to be the only possible practical lesson therefrom. The style throughout is clear and vigorous. The book at once acquired a popularity which among a large class it has never lost. It has been read widely among the English-speaking nations, as well as in Wales and the Scottish highlands. How well known it and Brown's other works were in Scotland some characteristic lines of Burns bear witness:-For now I'm grown sae cursed douce,/I pray an' ponder butt the house;/My shins, my lane, I there sit roastin'/Perusing Bunyan, Brown, an' Boston. (Letter to James Tait of Glenconner, lines 19-22.)" (D.N.B.).

    "The earliest edition of the Bible printed in New York...Contains 20 plates each labelled: Engraved for the American Edition of Brown's Family Bible. Text ends on 3X2...Many times reprinted in America" (Herbert). "It was published by subscription, George Washington being the first subscriber, and was printed in forty parts over a period of two years [1790-1792]" (Hills).

    Evans 24099. Herbert 1369. Hills, The English Bible in America, 37.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2008
    21st-22nd Thursday-Friday
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