WHAT: Printed in what was the wilderness of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Bay Psalm Book was the first book made by Congregational Pilgrims who arrived seeking religious freedom. As the first book printed in America, the book is precious as a historical document and religious artifact.
MORE: A poetic translation of the Psalms intended to reflect the Hebrew original, the text was created by leading ministers and scholars of the colony including Richard Mather and John Cotton. The press, paper and type were sent from England by an indentured locksmith.
SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: With printed matter, the first edition is the most sought and most valuable.
HOT TIP: Of the 1,700 copies of the first edition, only 11 are known to survive. In 2013, one set a new world record for a printed book at auction when it sold for $14.1 million in London. It was the first time since 1947 and only the second time since the 19th century that a first edition had come to auction.
BOTTOM LINE: At the Swann auction, it was the first time the seventh edition has surfaced. Published in Boston in 1693, it has provenance dating from a Salem witch trial judge.