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Rare 1st edition of King James Bible surfaces in Manitoba

2005-12-22 11:06:00

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Rare 1st edition of King James Bible surfaces in Manitoba
Last Updated Wed, 21 Dec 2005 17:56:39 EST
CBC News

Scholars have discovered that an old Bible in the University of Manitoba's archives is a rare first edition, first printing of the King James Bible.

"We had hoped that it was going to be a first edition, first printing, but we couldn't confirm it until now," said Shelley Sweeney, head of archives at the University of Manitoba Libraries.
University's Bible discovered to be rare first edition.

The book was a challenge to identify, Sweeney says, because the frontispiece of the book, a critical page that would have proved when it was printed, was missing.

* Image Gallery: A closer look at the King James Bible

The Bible, printed in 1611, was donated to St. John's College – one of the founding colleges of the University of Manitoba – by Rev. Daniel Greatorex, the vicar of Whitechapel in London, in 1897.

"There's a lot of mystery about the first publication, because the King's printer that was involved printed several editions within the first year," Sweeney told CBC News.

"So even if you had one that you knew for sure was from 1611, you couldn't tell for sure that it was a first printing until this year, when some of the details were confirmed with some of the differences between editions."

Sweeney says certain typographical irregularities – such as the use of the word "he" instead of "she" in one specific place – prove the book is not just an early version, but the original first edition, first printing.

Only about 50 first edition, first printings of the King James Bible exist in the world. Others have sold for more than $400,000 at recent auctions, Sweeney said.

This particular Bible could be worth even more; Sweeney says it includes a rare "genealogy" page, following family lineage from God to Jesus, and it includes a card indicating it was "believed to have once been the property of Kings James I" - however, the card's veracity has not yet been verified.

Members of the public can visit the University of Manitoba archives to have a look at the 400-year-old book in person.


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