Month: January 2018

John C Finnessy

John C Finnessy sent me this photo of himself with his 1733 New Testament that I hand-bound for him. Please remember to send me photos like this of yourself and your reenacting friends with the books that I have made for you. They are greatly appreciated. Check out how I made John’s Bible on my web page at the link below: I currently have three 1733 New Testaments, like John’s, in stock waiting for you.

1640 Bay Psalm Book

I am stitching the end band on my replica of the 1640 Bay Psalm Book.  The 1640 Bay Psalms Book was the first book to be printed in America.

My replica of this Psalm book is bound using the same traditional hand binding methods as the original and our type is clean and easy to read. Our Psalms book has the same size text block and its outside dimensions and thickness are the same as the original 1640. This book has around 300 pages. It is made up of 38, eight page signatures.

When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620, they brought with them a Book of Psalmes (Englished both in Prose and Metre) translated by Henry Ainsworth, a fellow Separatist, and published in 1612. One of the significant innovations of the Reformation had been the introduction of Psalm singing by the entire congregation. When the Puritans of the set sail across the Atlantic in 1629, they carried the Sternhold and Hopkins Book of Psalmes. This popular psalter was frequently appended to editions of the Geneva Bible and the Book of Common Prayer and was essentially the authorized Psalm book for the Church of England.

While the Puritans were not Separatists, like their Pilgrim cousins, they were NonComformists. They did not separate themselves from the Church of England, but rather hoped to reform the church from within. The Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter was a ‘poetic paraphrase’ of the Psalms, thus was found unacceptable by many of the colony. The Old Testament book of II Chronicles admonishes, ‘Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer.’ As early as 1636, the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony discussed the need for a fresh English translation of the original Hebrew. The Psalms were portioned out to ‘thirty pious and learned Ministers’ with John Cotton, Richard Mather and John Eilot (also translated the Bible into the Algonquin language) of particular note.

When the Massachusetts Bay Colony was charted in 1628, the Reverend Jose Glover of Surrey subscribed for £50 of its capital stock. Later, Glover raised funds and acquired a printing press for the new colony. After resigning from his pulpit, Glover secured passage for his family and for the family of his indentured servant Stephen Daye. In addition to his family, servants, and household furnishings, Glover set sail in 1638 with a printing press valued at £20, 240 reams of paper worth £60, and a case of assorted type. Sadly, Mr. Glover did not survive the voyage. Glover’s widow, Elizabeth, with assistance from Mr. Daye, went on to set up the press at a house on Crooked Lane (now 15 Holyoke Street) in Cambridge. In a journal entry dated March 1639, John Winthrop, the governor for the colony, noted, ‘A printing house was begun at Cambridge by one Daye, at the charge of Mr. Glover, who died on seas hitherward.’ Interestingly, Stephen Daye was a locksmith by trade. More is not known regarding why he was indentured and what position Mr. Glover originally intended him to have in the print shop. However, Mr. Daye’s son, Matthew, may have been apprenticed as a printer in London.

In 1640, ‘The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre’ was printed. This book, now popularly known as the ‘Bay Psalme Book’, was the very first book printed in North America. Seventeen hundred copies were printed in that first edition. Later court documents record that the cost of that printing was £33. One hundred and sixteen reams of paper were used at a cost of £29. The book was sold for twenty pence per copy with the total receipts from sales estimated to be 141 pounds, 13 shillings, 4 pence with a profit of 79 pounds, 13 shillings, 4 pence! The new psalter was adopted immediately by almost every congregation in the colony henceforth its name. The Bay Psalm Book even became popular in England and Scotland. More than fifty editions were printed before the newer Tate and Brady and Isaac Watts hymnals became popular in the mid-eighteenth century.

Interestingly, despite the Puritans’ emphasis on congregational singing, the 1640 ‘Whole Booke of Psalmes’ does not contain any musical notation. Instead the end of the text offers ‘An admonition to the Reader’ which explains ‘The verses of these psalmes may be reduced to six kindes, the first whereof may be sung in very neere fourty common tunes, as they are collected, out of our chief musicians, by Tho. Ravenscroft.’ Previously, in 1621, the English musicologist Thomas Ravenscroft published an expanded edition of Sternhold and Hopkins psalter that had included musical notation. Most of the Puritans would have been familiar with these tunes. (A complicated explanation regarding quatrains, syllables, common and long meter, etc. can be found on the Internet.)

Much also can be found regarding the eccentricities of Daye’s printing. The type that he used in the printing were worn. Daye did not clean his type well between pulls resulting in dirty or ink-clotted type. Italics were in short supply and there were no apostrophes. He had to make do. Many of the Hebrew characters were woodcuts. The ‘Whole Booke of Psalmes’ was printed as a quarto, but an octavo format would have saved more than half the paper that was used. The text type, 95 English Roman, was not well suited to the smaller format. The book is full of misspellings and typographical errors. At the head of every left hand page throughout, ‘PSALM’ is spelled while at the head of every right hand page, it is spelled ‘PSALME’. Humorously, Daye acknowledges that his printing includes mistakes. On the recto of the final leaf, Daye lists ‘Faults escaped in printing’ where he goes on to list seven mistakes specifically. He then continues, ‘The rest, which have escaped through oversight, you may amend, as you finde them obvious.’ Nevertheless, while these mistakes that may have been obvious to the seventeenth century reader, I dare say that most of us will probably less observant. Despite his lack of training and expertise, Stephen Daye will go down in history as America’s first printer.

Only eleven copies of the original seventeen hundred books printed in 1640 exist today with only six still retaining their original title page. In 2013, one of these originals went up for auction at Sotheby’s. This rare book had remained under the ownership of the Old South Church in Boston until they decided to liquidate some of their assets in order to pay for some much-needed repairs to their historic building. On November 26, 2013, the book sold for a record $14,165,000! So, the very first book printed in North America also set a new world’s record for the sale of a printed book.

I own two different modern bound reproduction of this book. The qualities of these scans are poor. Our Psalms is bound using the same traditional hand binding as the original and our type is clean and easy to read. Our Psalms book has the same size text block and its outside dimensions and thickness are the same as the original 1640.

To learn more about my 1640 Bay Psalm Book, please visit my web page at the link below:


1715 Apocrypha

This is the first page of the 1715 Apocrypha scanned from our original 1715 Bible. The image on the left is our original scan. The image on the right is after I cleaned that page up. David Moody scanned this entire Apocrypha for us. Question: “Was the Apocrypha in the original King James Bible? If so, why is it not in there now?” Answer: For a really detailed answer go to pages 222-228 of Alister McGrath’s book, “In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture”. It’s a complicated story that went on for centuries. It involves theology, but was finally decided by money. The answer is that it was in the original 1611 King James Bible. It remained in most published King James Bibles until 1826 when the missionary societies removed it for financial reasons. The first English-language Bible printed in North America in 1782 by Robert Aitken’s did not have the Apocrypha within. I believe that it is not there because Aitken was in a very big hurry to get that “Bible of the Revolution” into the hand of every Revolutionary War Soldier before the war ended. It wasn’t until 1826 that the Apocrypha disappeared from most all King James Bibles. Today, it is mostly impossible to get a major Protestant biblical publisher to allow the Apocrypha to be printed within a Bible, even when printing a reproduction that originally had it within. I make two different versions of the 1733 Bible. One contains the Apocrypha ($745) and one without the Apocrypha, ($625). Most reenactors order the less expensive version; again because of money. I also make the 1715 Apocrypha as a stand-alone book, $225. Learn more about my 1733 Bible at the link below:

For Sale: Charles Wesley’s 1767 Hymnal, #2

For Sale: Charles Wesley’s 1767 Hymnal, #2 This is the first replica or reproduction every made of this book. Please let me know if you want this one. It is $225 plus $7.20 shipping.
“Charles Wesley laid particular emphasis on hymns of praise to the Trinity. He included a set of short hymns with this focus in HSP (1740), 100–104; and a second set, under the subheading ‘Gloria Patri,’ in Hymns on God’s Love (1742), 54–60. These were followed by Gloria Patri (1746), which contained twenty-four hymns devoted to the Trinity. Much of the impetus behind these hymns was simple praise. But part of Charles’s concern was to resist the tendency in some contemporary writers to restrict claims about the full divinity of the Son or the Spirit, adopting implicit Arian or Unitarian understandings of God. In 1756 William Jones, a fellow Anglican priest, published Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity, proved by above an Hundred Short and Clear Arguments, which offered a vigorous defense of the full divinity of all three Persons of the Trinity. Both John and Charles Wesley welcomed the book, though they shared a concern that its academic style limited the scope of its impact. In Hymns for Children (1763), Charles Wesley had made the lessons in John’s Instructions for Children more accessible by rendering the central points in verse. He decided to do the same with Jones’s exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity. The result was published in 1767 as Hymns on the Trinity. The majority of this volume (the first 136 of the 188 hymns included) was essentially the exposition of Jones put in poetic form. It follows the structure of Jones’s book, using the same scriptural references, etc. Many of the articulations are very effective. Jones might have appreciated them himself, if Charles had sought his input (or permission!) for the work. The final section of this work is comprised of fifty-two “Hymns and Prayers to the Trinity,” which Charles composed more freely. The organization of this section is dictated by the metre of the hymns, not the topic. Specifically, Charles arranged the first twenty-four hymns in the section to correspond to the metre of the twenty-four Festival Hymns (1746), allowing him to suggest Lampe’s tunes for these hymns (and the others in the collection with the same metre). Charles had employed this strategy once earlier in Redemption Hymns (1747), and used it for Family Hymns as well in 1767. While a dozen or so of the hymns included made it into other collections used among the Methodists, Trinity Hymns (1767) was never reprinted.
Source: Duke Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition. See the following link:

Don Chesney with his Illiterate Bible

This is a photo of Don Chesney, taken in Grand Portage, Minnesota with his 1733 Bible on his table and his 1715 “History of ye Old & New Testaments in Cutts” that I made for him in his hand.  Learn more about our replica of our original 1715 “History of ye Old & New Testament” at the link below:


I scanned this image from my original 1724 Bible.  If you like ornaments, then you will want to check out the web site at the link below.

“Printers’ ornaments are the decorative features of books printed in the hand press period. Fleuron includes images of all kinds of printers’ ornaments, from those hand-cut in blocks of wood or metal, to cast ornaments, and the decorative pieces of type known as fleurons (our namesake). The database also includes engraved ornaments and illustrations. Full-page illustrations are excluded, but these can be found on Eighteenth-Century Collections Online. You can find out more about the different types of printers’ ornaments and their history in the Glossary. Fleuron was created from 32 million page images provided by Gale-Cengage Learning. The page images are originally from Eighteenth-Century Collections Online .

We developed a program to recognize printers’ ornaments and extract them from the full page images into a new database. The program was developed by Machine Doing Ltd. with the support of Research Software Engineering at the University of Cambridge.”

John Baskerville

This Day in History: January 28th, 1706 John Baskerville, English printer, was born.

“John Baskerville printed works for the University of Cambridge in 1758 and, although an atheist, printed a splendid folio Bible in 1763. His typefaces were greatly admired by Benjamin Franklin, a printer and fellow member of the Royal Society of Arts, who took the designs back to the newly created United States, where they were adopted for most federal government publishing.”  “Baskerville also was responsible for significant innovations in printing, paper and ink production. He developed a technique which produced a smoother whiter paper which showcased his strong black type. Baskerville also pioneered a completely new style of typography adding wide margins and leading between each line.”

(c) Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Sources: &