BIBLE IN ENGLISH - Robert AITKEN (printer & publisher)
The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments: Newly translated out of the Original Tongues; And with the former Translations Diligently compared and revised.
Philadelphia: printed and sold by Robert Aitken, 1781-82. 2 parts in one volume, 12mo. (6 x 3 1/2 inches). 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 OT and NT).
Contemporary sheep, spine in six compartments with raised bands (minor loss to lower portion of spine). Housed in a dark red full morocco box.
Provenance: Joshua Coit (signature dated 1783); William L. Learned (signature dated 1856)
The Aitken Bible, first English Bible printed in America and a major rarity amongst American Bibles and American printing.
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 good copy of a work usually found in poor condition, here in a contemporary American binding.
This copy with provenance to Joshua Coit (1758-1798), 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 1793-1798.
Darlow & Moule 928; Evans 17101,17473; Hildeburn 4126,4184; Hills 11; NAIP w004490; O'Callahan, p.31; Sabin 5165.