Biblical psalms to fetch historic price

Life
The “Bay Psalm Book”, the first book printed in what is now the USA in 1640 is considered the world’s most valuable book, with an auction estimate of US$15 - 30 million. Picture: Emmanuel Dunan

NEW YORK - A translation of Biblical psalms that was the first book ever printed in what became the United States goes on auction this November, with an expected price tag of $15-30 million, Sotheby's said on Friday in New York.

The book is one of the best of the 11 surviving copies of "The Bay Psalm Book," which Puritan settlers from England printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640, before the United States even existed.

The settlers, who were seeking religious freedom, wanted chiefly to issue their own preferred translation from the Hebrew original of the Old Testament book, rather than the one they had brought across the Atlantic.

However, the volume took on even greater significance, David Redden, the head of Sotheby's books, said.

"'The Bay Psalm Book' was not only the first book printed in America, and the first book written in America. This little book of 1640 was precursor to Lexington and Concord, and, ultimately, to American political independence. With it, New England declared its independence from the Church of England," Redden said.

Selby Kiffer, with Sotheby's special projects department, called "The Bay Psalm Book" "not simply one of the great icons of book history, it is one of the greatest artifacts of American history."

-Sapa

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