Philadelphia: Printed and sold by Robert Aitken, 1781-1782. Two parts bound in one volume. pp., text in two columns. Complete with title-leaves to both the Old and New Testaments, along with the certification leaf from Congress (bound between the Old Testament and New Testament). 12mo. Contemporary sheep. Minor loss to lower portion of spine. Old dampstain in upper right corner of the titlepage, scattered light staining. Very good. In a red morocco clamshell case. Provenance: Joshua Coit (signature dated 1783); William L. Learned (signature dated 1856). Item #WRCAM42295A
The Aitken Bible is one of the most celebrated American bibles, being the first complete English Bible printed in America. During the colonial era the monopoly on printing English bibles belonged to the Royal Printer, and the colonies were supplied entirely with bibles printed in England. The first Bible printed in the British colonies in America was the famous Eliot Indian Bible, in Algonquin, issued in Cambridge in 1661-63 and reprinted in 1680-85. The 18th century saw the printing of bibles in German. With the American Revolution, the British monopoly on English-language bibles naturally ended, and the embargo on goods from England acted to create a shortage. Aitken, a Philadelphia printer, undertook the task, producing the New Testament in 1781 and the Old Testament in 1782. On completion, he petitioned the Continental Congress for their endorsement and received it in September 1782. Because of this official endorsement and the reasons behind its production, the Aitken Bible is often referred to as "The Bible of the Revolution." This highspot amongst printed Americana has become very difficult to find in any condition. The present example, despite minor faults, is a very nice copy of a work almost inevitably found in poor condition, here in a contemporary American binding. This copy was owned by Joshua Coit (1758-98), a graduate of Harvard who served several terms in the Connecticut House of Representatives before being elected as a representative of that state to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving in Congress from 1793 to 1798. A major rarity in American bibles and American printing. DARLOW & MOULE 928. SABIN 5165. EVANS 17101, 17473. HILDEBURN 4126, 4184. NAIP w004490. HILLS 11. O'CALLAHAN, p.31.