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, contemporary full dark brown sheep sympathetically rebacked in calf gilt preserving original red morocco spine labels, raised bands, renewed endpapers. $32,000.
Very rare first edition of the first Hebrew Bible published in America, of major importance in the field of American Judaica. An excellent copy in nicely restored contemporary binding.
“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). In 1812, Jonathan Horowitz arrived in Philadelphia from Amsterdam with a font of Hebrew type, and proposed an edition of the Hebrew Bible— the first one to be issued in the United States. Facing competition from several others who hoped to publish an edition before his, Horowitz decided early in 1813 to transfer his right to the edition to Philadelphia publisher Thomas Dobson, and to sell his type to Dobson’s printer William Fry. Dobson’s edition, printed by Fry and published in 1814, precedes all others. Bound with both half titles. Darlow & Moule 5168a. Shaw & Shoemaker 30857. Rosenbach, American Jewish Bibliography 171. Wright, Early Bibles of America, 122-24. Wolf & Whiteman, History of the Jews of Philadelphia, 306. O’Callaghan 1814:8. Simms, 135-36. Bookseller label retained on rear pastedown of Volume I.
Text expertly cleaned. Volume II half title with upper third remargined, not affecting letterpress; Volume II title page with small marginal paper repair. Corners expertly restored. A very good, handsome copy.