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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — An incredibly rare copy of The Aitken Bible, 1782, the first Bible printed in English in America, provides the intriguing centerpiece for Heritage Auctions’ Sept. 12 Signature Rare Books Auction at Heritage. The fascinating tome is expected to bring $40,000 or more.
“This is a first edition of the first complete Bible published in America, and the only Bible ever authorized by Congress,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage. “When America was a British colony, we were forbidden to print the Bible. When we gained independence, this was one of the very first books to come off American presses, and it made as big a political statement as it did religious — it’s simply an amazing volume.”
Another important early American religious text is also expected to pique the interest of collectors: an 1830 first edition of “The Book of Mormon, An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, Upon Plates Taken From the Plates of Nephi,” by Joseph Smith. The book, originally owned and consigned by the descendents of John Wesley Brackenbury, a stepson of Joseph Smith and an early member and eventual elder of the Mormon Church, is expected to bring more than $80,000. The edition comes with an intriguing array of 17 photographs of Brackenbury’s family and of Mormon leaders Joseph Smith III and Alexander Hale Smith.
Greats of world literature are well represented in the auction, led by a first edition of William Shakespeare’s “Poems Written by Wil. Shakespeare,” printed in 1640 and expected to bring $20,000 or more. A first edition of James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922, one of 750 numbered copies on handmade paper (this copy being No. 540), out of a total edition of 1,000 copies, is expected to bring in excess of $10,000.
Fans of American literature will be pleased to see a first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1940 — one of 15 author’s copies with uncut edges inscribed and signed by Hemingway to his Havana neighbors, Popsie and Frankie Steinhart. It is expected to bring $20,000 or more. A first edition, third printing of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender is the Night,” New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934, inscribed by Fitzgerald on the front free endpaper “For Walter Bruington / from his friend / F Scott Fitzgerald / This story of a Europe / that is no more. / Sept 1940” is estimated at $6,000 and up.
The sale takes place at Heritage’s Beverly Hills showroom, 9478 West Olympic Blvd. For more information visit Heritage Auctions.
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