Early Bibles and historic signatures

June 11, 2006

The Christian Heritage Museum is a private collection of hundreds of rare Bibles, documents, manuscripts and art related to Christian history.

A sampling of the artifacts on view at the museum includes:

  • signatures of Martin Luther. A signed letter and signed ordination certificate are on display.

  • documents of John Calvin. John Calvin's signature is found on a letter dating to 1545.

  • signature of King Henry VIII. The king's signature is shown on a signed letter dating to 1550.

  • 1782 Aitken Bible. This Bible was the first to be printed in English in the U.S. Printer Robert Aitken and George Washington petitioned the Continental Congress for Bibles printed in English (it had been forbidden by the English king due to taxation laws) so that Revolutionary War soldiers would have a Bible to carry. Congress did approve the printing - for 30,000 Bibles - and paid $10,000 to have the books printed. Only 50 of these Bibles remain.

  • 1782 Isaac Collins Bible. This Bible of only the New Testament, was printed in Trenton, N.J., during the Revolutionary War. It is one of two recorded surviving copies.

  • pre-Braille Bible. Printed in 1842, this Bible was the first "pre-Braille" Bible printed in America. Instead of the Braille system of raised dots, words are raised on the page.

  • the earliest Bibles printed in America. The first Bible to be printed in America was the Eliot Indian Bible, printed in 1663. Pastor John Eliot learned the Algonquin language and created a written language in order to translate the Bible into Algonquin.

"These are almost the rarest Bibles in the world," said Norman Conrad, co-curator of the Christian Heritage Museum. "Most of these were destroyed in the Indian Wars."


The museum also holds Bibles referred to as the Eskimo Bible, Mohawk Indian Bible, Dakota Indian Bible and Choctaw Indian Bible.

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