Sotheby’s auctioned off a 1640 Bay Psalm Book back in 2013 for over $14 million. I make replicas of this original Psalme book. It was the first Bay Psalm Book to be auctioned since 1947. There were only 1,700 of these book made in 1640. Only 11 copies survive today and of them only 6 still have their title pages. Although some of them were bound with paste boards, this original was bound with wooden boards and then those boards were covered in leather.
I have a puzzle to solve:
I am making five replicas of the book right now bound with paste boards and was in the process of tooling those five. I want to tool these books to be as similar as possible to this original, although I have seen examples of originals with no tooling at all. As I was looking at this original that was auctioned in 2013, I notice something very familiar. Could it be? I own an original 1614 Book of Common Prayer. I got it down from my shelf and it had the exact same tooling marks on it. I mean exact. It looks like whoever bound this original 1640 Bay Psalm Book also bound my original 1614 Book of Common Prayer. Or at least they worked in the same bindery. The tools used are the same. I wish that I could lay them side by side and not just be looking at a photo of the Bay Psalm Book that was auctioned.
I was in the middle of tooling the five replicas of the original 1640 Bay Psalm Book, but I think that I may need to stop and make a replica of the brass tool that was used to tool the original books. At least I have nine original impressions in the leather of my 1614 Book of Common Prayer to use as patterns.
Another problem to solve. Should I make this myself or send it off to be made. If I only had access to a CNC mill. I have done business with a company in France that make be able to make be a brass tool like this. At least, I hope that they can.
What do you think? Does the tooling of these two originals look the same to you? Should I make it or have it made? Wonder where I could go and match my original with the original $14 million Bay Psalm Book? Who can I contact for advice?
Looks below to see photos of several original 1640 Bay Psalm Books. The photos at the last of these photos are of my original 1614 Book of Common Prayer with close up shots of the tooling that I want to replicate. The last photo is of the bookplate that is pasted on the back side of the front board. Can you transcribe it for me?
I have been looking more closely at my 1614 Book of Common Prayer this evening and I am now certain that it has been rebound sometime ago. I have also looked again at the original 1640 Bay Psalm Book that sold for +$14 million and I can also tell that it was also rebound in the past. I am pretty sure that the same person or bindery rebound them both. I’m sure that the new owner would not be particularly glad to hear that. But the tools used do match. Therefore, I do not know what original tooling looks like. Except, I do have a photo of an original covered in black leather that looks pretty much the same, except the tool that I am considering having made is different on this book. Maybe it has been rebound too. I also can’t see the spine of the black book. It does have the double line design tooled on the front cover. I have photos of three other original that have no tooling at all and are in bad shape. I bet that I find out that the originals were not tooled. I have done work for a museum or two. One guys probably used to own an original. If so, he may have a photo. He sold most of his originals to the Museum of the Bible in Washington. I know that he sold more than one original 1782 Bible of the Revolution. I am going to contact him for his advise. I have actually sold him a replica of the Bay Psalm Book earlier this year. I have contacted the Museum of the Bible and am waiting for their reply. I think that I have a lot of research to go.
This Day in History: September 12th, 1782 the Continental Congress authorized the printing of the first Bible ever to be printed in American in English. Robert Aitken of Philadelphia was to be the publisher and his Bible would go on to be called the “Bible of the Revolution”. I make replicas of Aitken’s “Bible of the Revolution”. You may purchase the one that I have in stock today from my Esty Store at the following link: Purchase Here
With more than a little help from my friends, I have been rearranging the bindery. We’ve found a new spot for the bindery sign. I won’t be banging my head on it any more.
I have finished the forth replica of the original 1782 Bible of the Revolution. This is the first Bible in English that was made in America. On this day, September 1st, 1782, Robert Aitken’s “Bible of the Revolution” was recommended to the Continental Congress.
“Rev. Gentlemen, Our knowledge of your piety and public spirit leads us without apology to recommend to your particular attention the edition of the Holy Scriptures publishing by Mr. Aitken. He undertook this expensive work at a time, when from the circumstances of the war, an English edition of the Bible could not be imported, nor any opinion formed how long the obstruction might continue. On this account particularly he deserves applause and encouragement. We therefore wish you, Reverend gentlemen, to examine the execution of the work, and if approved, to give it the sanction of your judgment and the weight of your recommendation. We are with very great respect, your most obedient humble servants. James Duane, Chairman in behalf of a Committee of Congress on Me. Aitken’s Memorial, Reverend Doct. White and Revd. Mr. Duffield, Chaplains of the United States in Congress assembled.”
~ Letter dated Philadelphia, 1 September, 1782, on the Congress’ adoption of the Aitken Bible
You can purchase this “Bible of the Revolution” from my Etsy Store at the following link:
Let me know, if you would like to purchase this book. Learn more about it on my web page at the following link: Click Here