Bibles Collections in England seldom possess Books printed in America, but it is well to put on record that America’s first printers did send over to England several copies, published in America. 40 Copies of Eliot’s Indian New Testament of 1661 went to London as a gift. When Christopher Saur printed this first Bible in 1743 in the German Language for his fellow German Refugees in Pennsylvania, Christopher Saur sent a dozen copies to Dr. Heinrich E. Luther of Frankfort in Germany, Dr. Heinrich E. Luther had originally send Christopher Saur the type for the printing from Germany. These were the first Bibles of America to appear in Europe. The First Bible printed in America 1782 in the English language was sent by its printer, Robert Aitken of Pennsylvania, to the British Museum where the Bible can be seen today.
Bible collectors in America are, however, not in a much more favoured position to secure the earliest American Bibles, partly because at the time of their publication hardly anyone considered them distinguished enough to be esteemed beside those issued in European printing establishments, it was a century later that some Americans began to seek out the First Edition Bibles as noteworthy, but sadly by that time most of the first edition Bibles had been lost, destroyed, or otherwise rendered of no value. A great many disappeared during the large migrations of the American People from State to State. Another major problem was the inferior quality of the paper used in the printing process, making the deterioration easy and loss of a large number of American Bibles.
Of course we must first speak about the first printed book in American, which was the Bay Psalm Book of 1640, The first book published in America by Stephen Daye of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Now to some Important American Bibles.
1. Eliot’s Indian New Testament of 1661;- 1st. Edition, Published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Samuel Green & Marmaduke Johnson. The Title-Page was in English & Indian Language.
2. Eliot’s Indian New Testament of 1663;- 2nd. Edition was published by the same publishers was in 1663, but the main Title-Page was only in the Indian Tongue.
3. Eliot’s First Indian Bible 1663;- Published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Samuel Green & Marmaduke Johnson.
4. Eliot’s Second Indian Bible 1685;- A revision of the 1st. Edition of 1661. Published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Samuel Green & Marmaduke Johnson.
5. First German Bible 1743;- Published by Christopher Saur in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Interesting it was a reprint of the 34 Halle Edition of Luther’s Bible, published in Germany.
6. First Bible Published on American Paper 1763;- this is usually called the Second Saur Bible.
7. First Bible Published on American Type 1763;- Interesting is the fact that 195 copies were printed. Published by Christopher Saur in Germantown, Pennsylvania.
8. First English New Testament 1777;- Published by Robert Eliot in Philadelphia.
9. First English Bible 1782-1783;- Published by Robert Eliot in Philadelphia. This Bible was Authorised by the Congress of America. Few copies survive today.
10. A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible 1788;- Published by Isaiah Thomas at Worcester, Massachusetts. Very important in that the Bible had over 500 small woodcuts and was intended for Children.
11. First Catholic Bible 1790;- Published by Carey, Stewart & Co, Philadelphia The Bible was in English, this is a very Rare Bible, very few 1st. Editions survived.
12. First Folio Bible 1791;- published BY Isaiah Thomas at Worcester, Boston, Massachusetts. The Folio Bible has 50 plates included.
13. There are many more important American Bibles to note, but I must Include in a special place a very Important American Bible;- Julia E. Smith’s Bible of 1876. The only Woman to translate the entire Bible from the originals. The Julia Evelina Smith Parker Translation is considered the first complete translation of the Bible into English by a woman. The Bible was titled The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments; Translated Literally from the Original Tongues, and was published in 1876. Miss J. E. Smith of Glastonbury, Connecticut. There is a Preface by the translator. In 1876, at 84 years of age some 21 years after completing her work, Julia Evelina Smith Parker finally sought publication. The publication costs over $4,000 were personally funded by Julia and her sister Abby Smith. The 1,000 copies printed were offered for $2.50 each. Sadly the Bible, itself, was considered by many as a very bad translation, maybe because she was a woman, translating in a man’s world. A 1,000 copies were printed but her household auction in 1884 sold about 50 remaining copies. Considered the First Feminist Bible.