A rather fine and complete rare survivor of an important Bible often found quite defective since it was distributed in the midst of the War of 1812 and sold cheaply, meaning it traveled West, was used more regularly by the poor, etc.,
Why was this imprint so important?
Bibles at the time were still being printed with moveable type. The process was slow, labor-intensive, and expensive, raising the price for Bibles above many persons' ability. Stereotyping, then a new technology, meant entire pages were cast as a single plate. No tedious letter by letter set. Once procured, the plates could be used over and over again, stored, re-used, etc., But the buy-in was dear.
The Philadelphia Bible Society saw the need for Bible distribution as the country moved West, often largely led by poor families. They needed to bring their faith with them. Then there were immigrants, slaves, and missionaries all in need of a more affordable option.
The Philadelphia Society negotiated with the British Government and the U. S. Government to allow for the safe delivery of the plates from England. Normally, embargos and heavy taxes in place during the War of 1812 would have made the journey practically impossible or impossibly expensive. It is perhaps notable that because of the many Quakers involved, the Pennsylvania Bible Society was perhaps the only one this could have been arranged with. Many of the Quakers were advocates of pacifism and non-resistance, and therefore not involved in the War.
The original run, of which this is one, is thought to have been somewhere around 1,500 Bibles. This initial run was followed by a steady flow of imprints utilizing the same plates, but with different title and prefatory matter.
And the plates really did change everything. Families no longer needed to save up a month's earnings to purchase one family-sized Bible. They could be purchased, given away, brought by missionaries traveling with settlers to the West, given to poor families and slaves. For the first time in America, the Scriptures were truly available to anyone who had a mind to read them.
We have handled perhaps 4 or 5 of these over the years. They are rarely in good condition and often incomplete.
The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments: Translated out of the Original Tongues, and with the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised. Stereotype Edition. Stereotyped for the Bible Society at Philadelphia, by T. Rutt. 1812.
Original plain calf, with rubbing, losses, consolidated on spine. That said, very solidly preserved. Would benefit from additional binding attention. 1848 inscription on the ffep from Susanah Wentzel to Samuel and Amelia Amey. Abraded at foredge. Blank flyleaf similar with central hole. Title crisp and clean. Remainder of text generally clean with a few turned corners and some general handling. One signature a bit forward though solidly bound.