OF EXCEPTIONAL RARITY: 1814 FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST HEBREW BIBLE PUBLISHED IN AMERICA
HEBREW BIBLE. Biblia Hebraica, Secundum Ultimam Editionem Jos. Athiae, a Johanne Leusden, Denuo Recognitum, Recensita Variisque Notis Latinis Illustrata, ab Everardo Van Der Hooght. Editio Prima Americana, Sine Punctis Masorethicis. Philadelphia: Printed by William Fry for Thomas Dobson, 1814. Two volumes. Octavo, modern full dark brown calf, raised bands, old red morocco spine labels. $28,000.
Very rare first edition of the first Hebrew Bible published in America, of major importance in the field of American Judaica, handsomely bound.
The publisher of this edition, Thomas Dobson, explained: "In the year 1812, Mr. [Jonathan] Horowitz had proposed the publication of an edition of the Hebrew Bible, being the first proposal of the kind ever offered in the United States. The undertaking was strongly recommended by many clergymen… and a considerable number of subscriptions for the work were obtained by him… Horowitz, recently arrived from Amsterdam with a font of Hebrew type, made his proposal, but he was not alone." Facing competition from several others hoping to publish an edition before his, Horowitz decided early in 1813 to transfer his right to the edition to the Philadelphia publisher Thomas Dobson; he sold his type to William Fry. Dobson's edition, printed by Fry and published in 1814, precedes all others.
"After the 'lean' years which followed the Revolutionary War, in the early decades of the nineteenth century America was in the throes of a great religious revival. As part of its intellectual aspect, the study of the Hebrew language was renewed… Grammars, lexicons, and chrestomathies were published, as well as books on the Bible and the Holy Land. The Jewish community was wary of these activities because the same scholars and divines were also involved in missionary activity. The appearance of a work in the Hebrew language which bore approbation from both leading Christian clergymen and leading Jews marked the beginning of friendlier intellectual discourse" (Karp, Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress, 291-292). Bound with half titles. Rosenbach, American Jewish Bibliography: 171. Wright, Early Bibles of America, 123-24. Darlow and Moule 5168a. Shaw & Shoemaker 30857. Wolf & Whiteman, History of the Jews of Philadelphia, 306.
Occasional light spotting, early ink stain along lower edge of Volume I text block (not affecting text). Bindings fine and handsome. Rare.