Bay Psalm Book: the little book that keeps getting more valuable

The Bay Psalm Book, the first book printed in America, fetched $14.1 million at auction Tuesday, the most a book has ever sold at an auction.Bay Psalm Book

It is the first book known to be published in America. There are only 11 copies of the book remaining in existence.

As reported by James Barron for the New York Times, Book Published in 1640 Sets a Record at Auction:

The Bay Psalm Book was published in 1640, more than a century and a half after the first Gutenberg Bibles and 20 years after the Pilgrims had landed at Plymouth. It was the first book turned out by a printing press that had been shipped over from England. The press operator was a locksmith who was apparently learning as he went along: some of the pages were bound in the wrong order. At the bottom of one, someone wrote, “Turn back a leaf.”

The reason for the existence of the book was the Puritan dissatisfaction with books of that kind that were produced by those outside the Puritan ways of thinking. Two of America’s early religious leaders, John Elliott and Richard Mather, contributed to the translation of the Psalms from Hebrew versions.

The book represents in a small way a declaration of religious independence from the Church of England that could be exercised by early residents of Massachusetts.

The buyer of the book is David Rubenstein. His plans for the book include putting it on tour at numerous libraries around the country and then lending it permanently for a library for public display.

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About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.

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