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Winship, George Parker.  The first American Bible: a leaf from a copy of the Bible translated into the Indian language by John Eliot and printed at Cambridge in New England in the year 1663, with an account of the translator and his labors, and of the two printers who produced the book. Boston: Printed by D.B. Updike at the Merrymount Press for Charles E. Goodspeed and Co., 1929. Small 8vo (20 cm, 7.75"). [2], 20 pp., tipped-in leaf.
$3,250.00

The "Eliot Indian Bible" is legendary among Bible and Americana collectors and libraries for its place in American history, book history, and the spread of the Scriptures beyond Europe and the Middle East. Winship (1871–1952), a major figure in American rare books in the first half of the 20th century, was successively the librarian of the John Carter Brown Library, the curator of the Harry Elkins Widener Collection at Harvard, and the keeper of the Treasure Room, then the rare books and manuscripts collection of the Harvard College Library. As such it was natural for Goodspeed's Book Shop to turn to him for the historical essay that forms the text of this leaf book. And a great historical essay it is, detailing the people and institutions involved: printers Samuel Green, Marmaduke Johnson, and the Indian assistant known as James the Printer; translator John Eliot; and the financial backer The New England Company. => The "Eliot Indian Bible" was "the earliest example in history of the translation and printing of the entire Bible in a new Language as a means of evangelization" (Darlow & Moule 6737), was the first printing of the Bible in the New World, and was the first printing of the Bible in a New World language. And of course the fact that a native American had an actual hand in printing it is remarkable.
        This leaf book, printed by D.B. Updike at the Merrymount Press, was limited to 157 (unnumbered) copies, each bearing a leaf from the "1663" edition of the Bible in Massachuset; but actually, since the leaf in this copy is from the New Testament, it was printed in 1661, the N.T. having been printed two years before the O.T. The leaf present here is Aa4 of the N.T., being John 6:2–71 and 7:1 –3, and so it contains => the parable of the loaves and fishes.

De Hamel & Silver, Disbound and Dispersed, 45; Updike, Merrymount Press, 685; Darlow & Moule 6736 & 3737; Pilling, Proof-sheets, 1174–77. Publisher's dark brown cloth, the covers reproducing the gilt design "used by John Ratcliff, the earliest American bookbinder, on the copy of the Eliot Bible now in the Library of Harvard University" (de Hamel & Silver, p. 73). Lightly rubbed at extremities; discoloration to rear fly-leaf and free endpaper from a tassled leather bookmark. Else very good, and with a particularly appealing "Eliot" leaf.  (40868)   Please RESHELVE This.


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