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The Case of the Missing American Dedication of the Algonquian Bible

Posted on 03/12/2010

  Citing James Constantine Pilling’s bibliography of Algonquian language publications, the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) catalog entry in the digital edition of Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800 notes the separately printed dedication sheet to Robert Boyle, the famous British scientist, who supported the production of John Eliot’s translation of the Bible into the Algonquian language.


The separately printed sheet, an American printing, was loosely inserted into copies of the 1685 edition of that famous Bible which were sent to England. That dedication sheet is not in the AAS copy digitized by Readex. Incidentally, Eliot’s dedicatory pages to Boyle are bound into his 1666 “The Indian grammar begun: or, An essay to bring the Indian language into rules, for the help of such as desire to learn the same, for the furtherance of the Gospel among them.”


According to Pilling, copies of the dedication to Boyle are, to cite two examples, in copies of the 1685 edition of the Algonquian Bible held by the Lenox Library (now a part of the New York Public Library) and the Massachusetts Historical Society Library.  The questions, then, are: how many American libraries or private collections hold a copy of the 1685 dedication to Boyle which are not indicated in Pilling’s 1891 bibliography? and, perhaps more importantly, what other instances are there of an American printing sent to England but not retained, or at least generally retained, in America or in American distribution copies?

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