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Oldest Book Printed on American Soil To Go Up for Sale

A 372-year old book of psalms is set to go up for auction

smithsonian.com

A copy of the Bay Psalm Book. Photo: Library of Congress

Twenty years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the first book ever printed in America-to-be came off the presses in Cambridge, Massachusetts—a book colloquially known as the Bay Psalm Book, in place of its more extensive title, The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre.

From the press operated by Stephen Daye, a printer with the Massachusetts Bay Colony, came 1,600 copies of the book, says NPR. Of that original collection, only 11 survive to this day, with Boston’s Old South Church holding on to two. Last weekend, however, the church decided that it really only needed one copy of the treasured tome and, in a vote that split 271 to 34, decided to sell one of their historic texts.

At auction, says NPR, the Booke of Psalmes is expected to fetch between $10 and 20 million.

The chair of the church’s board told the New York Daily News that the money would be used “to expand its endowment, with reports the money would be used for renovations and to feed homeless people.”

More from Smithsonian.com:
On the Hunt for Jefferson’s Lost Books

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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