This Day in History: January 22nd, 1734 Robert Aitken was born in Scotland.
Aitken immigrated to Philadelphia in 1769 and made his living as a bookseller, printer, binder, and publisher. About a year before the War he started publishing, “The Pennsylvania Magazine” and kept it up for about a year (1776). He is well-known for publishing the first New Testament and the first Bible in English in America. That first New Testament was published in 1777 and was the first New Testament in English to ever be printed outside of Great Britain. We make replicas of his 1777 New Testament. He continued publishing New Testaments every year until 1781, but there are no originals existing today from the years between 1777 & 1781. We also make replicas of his 1781 New Testaments. His Bibles were printed on wood pulp paper, instead of the normal and more expensive cotton/linen rag paper. That’s probably another reason why so few have survived.
In the middle of printing his 1777 New Testament the British invaded Philadelphia. Many citizens fled the city and it would have been smart (since Aitken was a printer) to flee as well. But instead, he stayed, tore down his print job and equipment, and buried it all in a barn until the British left (September, 1777). Then he set it all back up and finished printing his 1777 New Testament.
We (James Darlack & I) are currently scanning and cleaning up Robert Aitken’s 1782 Old Testament, aka “The Bible of the Revolution” and we hope to have it ready to bind later this year. Hunter Willis is in the process of building our web page where we will have much more information about our replica. The first several pages of the 1782 Bible contain documents of Congress authorizing this Bible.
If you want to follow our work on this Bible, please visit the our web page at the link below: