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. 12mo. Contemporary sheep. Binding rubbed. Light toning and foxing. Contemporary notations on rear endleaves. A very good copy in contemporary condition. In a blue half morocco slipcase and chemise, spine gilt. Item #WRCAM56605
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 has four pages of annotations by the Shipman family, beginning with the marriage of Paul Shipman and Mary Bond in 1780 and extending through the death of George Shipman in 1846. A note on the rear fly leaf reads: "Paul Shipman's Bible bought of Majr. William Helms in Hacketstown December 23th 1783 price of 6/-. Printed by Robt. Aitken at Pope Head three doors above the Coffey house in Market Street Philadelphia in 1782."
A major rarity in American bibles and American printing. DARLOW & MOULE 928. SABIN 5165. EVANS 17101, 17473. HILDEBURN 4126, 4184. ESTC W4490. HILLS 11. O'CALLAHAN, p.31.