November 26, 2013

‘Crown jewel’ of American printing fetches $14.2 million in record auction

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For the first time since 1947, and only the second time since the nineteenth century, a copy of the first book printed in America will be sold at auction. The Whole Booke of Psalmes—universally known as The Bay Psalm Book—was translated and printed in 1640 in the virtual wilderness of Massachusetts Bay Colony by the Congregationalist Puritans who left England in search of religious freedom. Photo courtesy Sotheby’s New York

For the first time since 1947, and only the second time since the nineteenth century, a copy of the first book printed in America will be sold at auction. The Whole Booke of Psalmes—universally known as The Bay Psalm Book—was translated and printed in 1640 in the virtual wilderness of Massachusetts Bay Colony by the Congregationalist Puritans who left England in search of religious freedom. Photo courtesy Sotheby’s New York

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NEW YORK (RNS) One of the 11 surviving copies of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book (and the first book of Scripture) printed in English in America, was sold Tuesday night for the highest price ever recorded for a print book in open sale.