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The Bay Psalm Book – First Printed Book in America {Video}

Video / Sotheby’s

Via the Sotheby’s blog:

As the first printed book in America, the Bay Psalm Book was an early harbinger of American independence. In this video, David Redden, Director, Special Projects, and Selby Kiffer, Senior Specialist, Special Projects, explore the book’s incalculable significance in advance of its historic auction at Sotheby’s New York on Nov. 26.

For the first time since 1947, and only the second time since the nineteenth century, a copy of the first book printed in America will be sold at auction. The Whole Booke of Psalmes – universally known as The Bay Psalm Book – was produced in the virtual wilderness of Massachusetts Bay Colony by the Congregationalist Puritans who left England in search of religious freedom.

A new poetical translation of the Psalms, intended to express the Hebrew original, was made by the leading scholars and ministers of colonial New England – John Cotton, Richard Mather and John Eliot among them – and the book was printed on a press sent, with paper and type, from England for that purpose by Stephen Daye, an indentured locksmith. From an edition of 1,700 copies, just 11 survive.

Of inestimable significance, The Bay Psalm Book is not simply one of the great icons of book history, it is one of the greatest artifacts of American history.

This is the same book that, earlier in November, was on view at a reception at the Harlan Crow Library, one of the great monuments to bibliophily and book collecting in the nation.

Click here for more information on the auction.

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