Month: September 2018

The 1742 London Psalter & Prayer Book

THE PSALTER or PSALMS of DAVID after the translation of the Great Bible; Pointed as they are to be Sung or Said in churches. With the Addition of Morning and Evening PRAYERS…XDCCXLII.


This pocket size 1742 Psalm book has many things in common with my original 1734 Book of Common Prayer that I also replicate and many of you own. It is basically the people’s portion of that Prayer Book.  It has the Morning and Evening Prayer services, the Catechism, and of course, the Psalms.  It is a lighter and cheaper version for the people to carry to Church.  It measures about 5/8 X 4 5/8 X 6 ¾ inches.


One of the more curious things about this Psalm Book may be that the translation of Psalms originate from the Great Bible of 1539.  The Great Bible was the ‘authorized version’ of the English Bible at the time of the issuance of the first Prayer Book in 1549.   When the Book of Common Prayer was reauthorized in 1662 they kept the old version of the Psalter.  Naming the Great Bible on the title page is to assure the people that this is not the new (1611) version.


This is a 148 page pocket size Psalm Book that was made with the intent that it would be used at home and carried to Church and used there too.  As you can see from the photos below, my original had to be taken apart in order to be scanned. I hope to find the time to rebind it. In the meantime, I am making my first replicas of this book. See photos below:

For Sale: 1st Book Made in America

I’ve finished all five of the 1640 Bay Psalm Books that I have been working on. I shipped two today and three are for sale in my Etsy Store at the following link:  Click here to purchase from my Etsy Store
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.
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 Massachusetts Bay Colony set sail across the Atlantic in 1629, they carried 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.
In 1640, The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre was printed. This book now popularly known as the Bay Psalm 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.)
As mentioned above, the first edition of the 1640 Bay Psalm Book did not have any musical notation. Musical notation first appeared in the 9th edition in 1698. See the title page below. I make replicas of this 24 page musical notation, bound in pamphlet form, show above. I sell them in my Esty Store at the following link and include them for free with each Bay Psalm Book ordered.
This musical notation was actually taken from John Playford 1761 Psalms & Hymns book and only has Playford’s bass line. However, Playford’s musical notation has three different voices and can be used for harmonization, if you want. I also replicate that book. You can purchase Playford’s 1697 edition of the Psalms and Hymns from me.
Much can be said regarding the eccentricities of Daye’s printing. The type used in the printing was old and 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 Bay Psalm Books printed in 1640 exist today. Only six of those still retain their original title page. In 2013, the first one of these books to be at auction since 1947 went up for auction at Sotheby’s. It 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 make replicas of the original 1640 Bay Psalm Book. They are bound using the same traditional hand binding techniques, materials and are the same size as the originals. Learn more about my replica of the original 1640 Bay Psalm Book on my web page at the following link:

Aitken’s 1777 New Testament

I want to thank John Hockley for having this photo taken of himself, a cannon, and his 1777 New Testament that I made for him.  This is not any old ordinary 18th century New Testament.  It is actually a replica of the first New Testament, in English, ever to be Made in America.   Robert Aitken published this New Testament in 1777.  He had to stop production of it and bury his entire print shop in a barn, just before British General Howe and his troops arrived in Philadelphia.   Aitken never resumed making this edition of the New Testament.   However, he started making another New Testament the following year, after the British had gone, in 1778 and continued making New Testaments each year through 1781  There are only three know original copies of this 1777 New Testament that survive today, but none of the 1778, 1779, & 1780 editions survived.  He published his 5th edition in 1781 which did survive.  I make replicas of both of his 1777 and 1781 editions.  I have one replica of his 1781 New Testament for sale in my Etsy Store at the following link:


I’m trying to Decide How to Tool My Replicas of the 1640 Bay Psalm Book

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 this book right now bound with paste boards and am in the process of tooling those five. I want to tool these books to be as similar as possible to the 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.
After looking at six more photos of original 1640 Bay Psalm Books that you can see below, I am convinced that the $14 Bay Psalm Book has been rebound and I should not use it as an example of what an original one looked like.  I am not even sure, if the originals had wooden boards.
I have been looking more closely at my 1614 Book of Common Prayer  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.
I do have a photo of an original covered in black leather that looks pretty much the same, except the tool that I was considering having made is different on this book. I think that it has been rebound too. 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.  See below.  I have done work for a museum or two.  I have made initial  contact wit the Museum of the Bible and am waiting for their reply.
The two books above are of the $14 million rebound 1640 Bay Psalm Book
The two photos above and the closeup shots below are of the spine of my original, but rebound 1614 BCP
The photo above is of the spine of an original 1640 Bay Psalm Book that is in the Library of Congress’ library. It has not been rebound.  This one has no tooling and the text block was sewn around only three cords.
The photo above is of a rebound original 1640 Bay Psalm Book.  Notice that this is not the same tooling mark as seen on the rebound Bay Psalm Book nor on my original 1614 BCP show above.
The photo above is of an original 1640 Bay Psalm Book that has its original binding.  Notice that it does not have wooden board, but paste boards.  It has triple lines on the top and right side and double lines on the bottom.
The photo above is of another original 1640 Bay Psalm Book that has not been rebound.  This one also seem to be bound between paste boards and sewn around three cords.  Notice the simple wide double line tooling on its front cover.
This is another photo of an 1640 Bay Psalm Book that has not been rebound.  It seems to also have been bound with paste boards, the text block has been sewn around three cords,
and you can also see what remains of a brass clasp.  It is hard to tell if it was tooled at all.
This original 1640 Bay Psalm Book above has obviously not been rebound.  It seems to have been bound in a similar manner as the one show above it.  Three rib cords, paste boards, hard to tell if it was tooled at all, and it also has the remnants of brass clasps.
As I said before, there are only 14 known original 1640 Bay Psalm Books in existence today.  I have photos of seven of those above.  I need to find photos of the rest, but with half of them represented here, I think that I have a good idea as to how the original 1640 Bay Psalm Books were bound and tooled.

Continental Congress authorized The Printing of the 1st Bible Ever to be Printed in American in English Today in 1782

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

1782 Bible of the Revolution: For Sale

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:
 Purchase Here  Or to save $50, you can just mail be a check.
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