Category: Blog

Bible of the Revolution

This Day in History: September 21, 1782 The Continental Congress authorized Robert Aitkin to publish the first English-language Bible printed in America.  This Bible is often called “The Bible of the Revolution”.  We make replicas of this Bible.  If you ever want one of our replicas, just let me know.  They take about a month to make. 

Before the Revolution, it had been impossible to print an English language version of the Bible in the colonies, because no American printers held a license from the King granting permission to print the Bible.  The war cut off shipments of Bibles from Great Britain, but also got rid of the need for the license; thereby creating a shortage of Bibles and the ability to print them in America.

Robert Aitken stepped in to fill this void. Beginning in 1777, Aitken began publishing and selling New Testaments. Aitken made the first New Testament printed in this country in 1777. After this first printing, he had to bury all of his equipment. The regulars were headed to Philadelphia and would have looked very unfavorably on any printer that they came across.

Robert Aitken first advertised his New Testament for sale in the August 28, 1777 edition of the Pennsylvania Evening Post. The transcription of this ad is below:

“Just printed (bound and ready for sale) by R. Aitken, printer and bookseller, opposite the London Coffee-house, Frontstreet, a neat edition of THE NEW TESTAMENT for the use of schools, where may be had writing paper of different kinds, particularly letter paper of the first quality, and several hundreds of excellent quills.”

There are only three known copies of Aitken’s 1777 New Testament still in existence today. One can be found in the New York Public Library’s collection. Another belongs to the Philadelphia Historical Society. The last was auctioned off by Bloomsbury Auctions in London November, 2011 by an undisclosed seller.

Demand was heavy, so every year, for the next five years, Aitken published a new edition of his New Testament. In total, he published five editions: Aitken’s second edition was published in 1778; his third in 1779; his fourth in 1780; and finally his last and fifth edition was published in 1781. I am unsure of the number of New Testaments Aitken printed each year, but I expect that it was somewhere between one thousand and ten thousand.

It was not until 1782 that Aitken had his first complete Bible. He printed his 1782 Old Testament and added it to his previously printed 1781 New Testament.

Hieroglyphic Bible

This is a photo of Ivan Daniels with his Hieroglyphic Bible that we made for him.  It was taken during the Memorial for the Reverend Samuel Doak.

Check out how we turned our two original Hieroglyphic Bibles into this one replica on my web page at the following link:

If you want one of these Hieroglyphic Bibles, just let us know and we will make it for you.

The First Book Printed in America

The Library of Congress Showcased the First Book Printed in America. Watch this 3 minute YouTube video to learn more about this book. I make a nice period hand-bound replica of this book. Learn more about my replicas on my web page.  Click the link at the bottom of this post.

All members of all military units MUST ATTEND Divine Services

This Day in History: September 20th, 1776

Congress passed the ‘Articles of War’ which was highly moralistic in tone, and while they didn’t establish an organized chaplaincy, they did recommend diligence in services and established their authority over the chaplains in locations other than the Army at Cambridge.  The articles also provided for fines or confinement for soldiers not attending services and for AWOL chaplains to be court martialed and fined a maximum of one month’s pay.  Washington was now of the opinion that one chaplain should not be expected to serve more than one regiment to prevent the possibility that some of the men would have a chaplain of a faith other than their own. Apparently most of the units were fairly homogeneous as far as religion is concerned.  Especially notice this portion of the article:  “The articles also provided for fines or confinement for soldiers not attending services and for AWOL chaplains to be court martialed and fined a maximum of one month’s pay.” 

This means that all members of all military units MUST ATTEND Divine Services at every reenacting event in order to be period correct. 



hand binding a pocket 1733 New Testament: part nine

It is finished.  We have completed Tim Iten’s 1733 New Testament.  We started working on it on September 9th and finished it just a few minutes ago around 9:30 pm on September 19th.  That is a little faster than we normally make a book this size.  It maybe because I have not made a book since before June 1st when I injured my back again and this was the only project that I was working on.  I appreciate Tim for letting me make this book for him.  It helped me pull out of the depression that I was in after two months of several pain and then the surgery.  

hand binding a pocket 1733 New Testament: part seven

We’re still working on Tim Iten’s New Testament. These photos were taken while we were tooling or decorating the leather on the New Testament.  There is one photo of top and then three videos that we made during this process.  I hope that you especially enjoy the videos.  


hand binding a pocket 1733 New Testament: part six

We continue to be working on Tim Iten’s 1733 pocket size New Testament.  These photos were taken while we were putting the leather on his book.  We went ahead after getting his leather on and completed putting his marbled end paper in and attaching our book ticket on the back page.  See the photos below.