Category: Blog

John Foxe is Dead

This Day in History:  April 18th, 1587 John Foxe died.  He is mostly remembered as the author of his book,  Acts and Monuments, aka Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.  I make a pictorial or engraving version of my original 1732 Martyrs book that is pretty cool.  Take a look at my web page at the following link to find out more about this book and to see a slide show of all of the pages from this book:  I have found that this book creates a lot of interest at reenacting events.  Click Here

 

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Robert Aitken’s Historical Marker in Philadelphia

Robert Aitken’s Historical Marker is located at the site of his former shop on Market Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he would have printed his “Bible of the Revolution”. The marker reads:

“Robert Aitken (1734-1802) An influential revolutionary era printer, he operated a shop on this block.  In 1782, Aitken printed the nation’s first complete English Bible.  It received endorsement from Congress, and was the only new Bible available to colonists due to printing restrictions and imports embargoes.  He also published the Journals of Congress, its official proceedings, and The Pennsylvania Magazine which introduced the writings of Thomas Paine to America.”

Learn more about this Bible of the Revolution on my web page at the following link:  Click Here

 

Robert Aitken Bible: Sothebys’ Auction

We are doing quite a bit of research on Robert Aitken’s 1782 “Bible of the Revolution”.  I found this particular one that was for sale by Sothebys.  See the image of this Bible and two pages of its description; both inside and out.  We are getting close to having our replica ready to print and bind.  Please visit our web page at the following link:  Click Here  

You will notice that this book has been rebound, “Contemporary calf, smooth spine, 8 circles roughly incised on upper cover to a lozenge pattern, later lettering piece; rebacked, original spine laid down, free endpapers stained and partially remargined.”  You can also see that the spine may have not been rounded enough and is flat and starting to go concave.

The following link will take you to the Sotherby auction page: Click Here

 

Robert Aitken: 1st New Testament & 1st Bible in English in America

Robert Aitken produced the first English language New Testament made in America. 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 (I replicate this 1777 New Testament). Demand was heavy, so every year, for the next five years, Aitken published a new edition of his New Testament base off of the King James Bible. 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 replicate this 1781 New Testament). 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. Only his 1777 & 1781 New Testaments still exist today.

It was not until 1782 that Aitken published his first complete Bible; his first Old Testament (1782) was added to his previously printed 1781 New Testament. I used to think that Aitken planned ahead and printed about ten thousand additional New Testaments in 1781 and had them waiting to be bound with the ten thousand Old Testaments that he printed in 1782.  However, since getting a chance to view more of his original 1782 Old Testaments, I can now identify at least two different printings of his 1782 Old Testaments. So, maybe I am wrong about when he printed the 1781 New Testaments that he added to his 1782 “Bible of the Revolution”.  You will notice that the 1782 Bible’s New Testament title page is dated 1781, while the Old Testament is dated 1782. 1782 was the only year that the Aitken Bible, aka “Bible of the Revolution” was published.  I also replicate Aitken’s 1782 “Bible of the Revolution”

After the war, America was once again flooded with inexpensive Bibles from England. Aitken was stuck with way too many Bibles and was near financial ruin. The Presbyterian Synod stepped in and purchased Aitken’s remaining stock and gave them to the poor; thus saving him from bankruptcy.

Original Aitken Bibles are very rare. The last copy I saw sold went for about $150,000.

 

The last time I looked, the following institutions were owners of original Aitken Bibles.

 

Goddard Library at Gordon-Cronwell Theological owns Aitken’s 1782 Old Testament

British Museum

Mass. Historical Society

New York State Library

Library of Congress

American Antiquarian Society in Worcester Massachusetts

American Bible Society

Lenox Library New York

Maryland Episcopal Library Baltimore MD

Connecticut Historical Society

Philadelphia Library Company

Pennsylvania Historical Society

The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC

 

Check out my replicas of each of Aitken’s books at the following links:

 

1777 New Testament:  Click Here

1782 Bible of the Revolution:  Click Here

How Thick Will My Replica of Aitken’s “Bible of the Revolution” be?

Question: How Thick is the text block of my replica of Robert Aitken’s “Bible of the Revolution”? I finally have the answer. I have been working on this Bible for almost a decade. Every since I began scanning, I have been wondering how thick this Bible would end up being. I now have the answer: 4 inches + boards, leather, & thread.  Now to cut the width & height.  I guess the answer will have to wait a bit longer.
 
Check out our work on Aitken’s “Bible of the Revolution” on my web page at the following link:  Click Here