1799 Welsh Bible (Y Bibl Cyssegr-Lan). Rawhide binding with hair. Provenance. Important edition (Mary Jones). SPCK, Dawson, Bensley, Cooke

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The Welsh Bible edition that Mary Jones famously walked twenty-six miles to purchase, igniting a Bible printing and distributing movement in England. This copy with wonderful Welsh-American provenance, and over-bound handsomely in rawhide, with hair, attesting to its life on the American frontier.

About This Edition -

The 1799 Y Bibl was the first Welsh printing in thirty years by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), revised carefully from the SPCK 1746/52 printings, with input from scholars including John Roberts and Evan Evans, of Oxford. Begun in 1798, finished in 1799, 10,000 copies of the Bible were produced. It was printed under the patronage of Richard Bagot, D.D. of Oxford. Although generous in number, it was sold by the SPCK at a price well below the cost of production, and demand far-exceeded supply and it quickly sold-out without further editions planned. “The revivals had brought many converts to religion, who, unable to obtain Bibles for themselves, visited the houses of more fortunate neighbours for the purpose of reading the Word of God. The worn condition of Welsh Bibles in circulation at this time bear out the reports of the constant use made of them.” (The Bible in Wales, John Ballinger, 1906)

This Edition's Importance (Mary Jones) -

ln 1800, Mary Jones, a fifteen year-old maid with a burning desire for a Bible in her language, famously walked twenty-six miles to purchase this edition from Rev. Thomas Charles after saving six years. This encounter led Charles to propose a society to supply Wales with Bibles, which became the British and Foreign Bible Society. William Wilberforce campaigned for, and is a founding member of this society, which still produces Bibles for its mission.

Provenance -

This copy is from the family of John and Jane Roberts (I could not find Robert's Welsh lineage, and am unsure if he is a relation of the editor). The Roberts married in 1843 in Algesey, Wales. They immigrated to the US in that decade. He wrote his New York address, "343 Grand Street" within the Bible, but his memorial records that he ended earthly life as a farmer in Slatington, Pennsylvania in March of 1889 (Find A Grave memorial #142389530). The wonderful hide over-binding, stitched tight on the inside of the boards, is highly suggestive of his time as a farmer.

Recorded Copies -

I have been unsuccessful in finding recent sales of this important edition, which was instrumental in launching a Bible printing movement. Worldcat (a library finding aid) records five copies in the world's libraries (Bringham Young, Univ. of Min., Bangor Univ., Cardiff Univ., Univ. of Queensland), OCLC # 895936810. We also know that the Bible Society keeps Mary Jones' Bible in their archive at Cambridge.

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 21.5 x 13 x 10 cm, 8vo. Calf binding, over-bound with a rawhide cover. A number of works in one: Hyfforddiadau, Llyfr Gweddi Gyffredin (Book of Common Prayers), Y Bible (Old and New Testaments) and Llyfr Y Psalmau, each with a title page (excepting the Hyfforddiadau title page).

Condition -

See pictures. Vintage patina, with the pleasing look of history. Crudely over-bound in hide with hair. A little splaying and cockling of boards, joints starting, spine chipped, with much edge wear and rubbing/loss of hair. Occasional foxing, moisture mark intrusion, etc.. Rear board bottom corner slightly burned.

Toned throughout. Dusty/soiled and many pages with page edge chips and etc. Missing the 1st title page (starts at A2). All the other titles present. Missing last four leaves at rear of last book Psalmau, 64 of 72 pages. Several quires shaken (extend at fore-edge). Occasional 19th century writings of the Roberts family.

Well-used, but handsome and emanating a sense of history that is impossible to replicate.

I have not collated every leaf, but, saving the 1st leaf and last four leaves, it seems complete; I imagine this Bible as being sold for its history and provenance, rather than perfect condition, but if you'd like a detailed collation and are intent on buying, please ask; it will be no small task at 10 cm. thick :)

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