BIBLE, IN ENGLISH, AUTHORIZED VERSION [The Holy Bible: Containing the Old Testament and the New], THE 'WICKED BIBLE', 2 parts in 1 vol., Robert Barker... and by the assignes of John Bill, 1631
Lot 5
BIBLE, IN ENGLISH, AUTHORIZED VERSION
[The Holy Bible: Containing the Old Testament and the New], THE 'WICKED BIBLE', 2 parts in 1 vol., Robert Barker... and by the assignes of John Bill, 1631
Sold for £31,250 (US$ 42,311) inc. premium

Lot Details
BIBLE, IN ENGLISH, AUTHORIZED VERSION [The Holy Bible: Containing the Old Testament and the New], THE 'WICKED BIBLE', 2 parts in 1 vol., Robert Barker... and by the assignes of John Bill, 1631
BIBLE, IN ENGLISH, AUTHORIZED VERSION
[The Holy Bible: Containing the Old Testament and the New], THE 'WICKED BIBLE', 2 parts in 1 vol., ruled in red throughout, New Testament title within elaborate woodcut border, lacking general title (A1), woodcut headpieces and ornamental initials, occasional damp and other stains, a number of leaves trimmed or frayed mainly affecting side-notes only, nineteenth century brown morocco, sides with gilt double gilt rule borders and corner tools, gilt panelled flat spine, rubbed, joints cracking [Herbert 444; STC 2296], Robert Barker... and by the assignes of John Bill, 1631; bound with defective copies of The Booke of Common Prayer, Speed's Genealogies and The Whole Book of Psalmes, 8vo (163 x 105mm.)

Footnotes

  • "THOU SHALT COMMIT ADULTERY": THE INFAMOUS AND EXTREMELY SCARCE 'WICKED BIBLE', with the word 'not' omitted from the Seventh Commandment in Exodus XX, 14.

    The Wicked Bible, also referred to as the 'Adulterous' or 'Sinners' Bible', was published under the direction of the royal printers Robert Barker and Martin Lucas. When the printing error was discovered, about a year later, Barker and Lucas were summoned by order of King Charles I to the Star Chamber, where they were found guilty, fined £300 and deprived of their printing license. The entire impression of 1,000 copies was at once called in and the majority cancelled and burned. The number known to remain is certainly small: ESTC lists 9 copies and 5 have appeared at auction in the post war period.

    Although Lucas is sometimes named as Barker's co-printer, he was acting as executor for the Bill estate and may just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. H.R. Plumer, in his Dictionary of Booksellers and Printers, 1641-1667, states that 'the real printers were Miles Fletcher, John Haviland, and Robert Young, a group that controlled many of the London printing establishments at the time'. It has also been suggested that the mistake was an act of sabotage, possibly perpetrated by Barker's rival Bonham Norton, to politically embarrass Barker. Certainly the controversy added to Barker's decline in fortunes and reputation, and he was in and out of the King's Bench Prison before dying there in 1645.

    Provenance: "The Gift of John Williams of --? to his nephew J.M. Williams in March 1847", inscription on front free endpaper.
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