America's oldest book pays a visit to Chicago

September 11, 2013

CT-ENT-0910-FIRST-AMERICAN-BOOKA copy of the Bay Psalm Book, published in 1640 in Cambridge, MA is on display today at the Newberry Library as one stop of a grand book tour sponsored by Sotheby’s. It is one of eleven surviving copies of the oldest book printed in North America. It’s real title is “The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre,” and it hails from Cambridge, MA. The well preserved, but fragile little book was published in 1640 by printer Stephen Daye. The run was 17,000 copies, roughly one for every Puritan family in the Massachusetts colony. This copy lives a little bit like a vampire–it never sees the light of day and resides in a special box; and a little bit like a head of state–it has an entourage and tight security. Though not well known by the general public, it was featured in a mystery novel by Will Harriss: The Bay Psalm Book Murder. For more about this rare book, read the article from Monday’s Chicago Trib.

Barbara L.

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