NEW YORK (AP) – A tiny hymnal from 1640 believed to be the first book ever
printed in what is now the United States is going up for auction, and it could sell for
as much as $30 million.
Only 11 copies of the Bay Psalm Book survive in varying degrees of completeness. Members of Boston’s Old South Church have authorized the sale of one of its two
copies at Sotheby’s Nov. 26.
"It’s a spectacular book, arguably one of the most important books in this nation’s
history," said the Rev. Nancy Taylor, senior minister and CEO of the church, which
was established in 1669. Samuel Adams was a member and Benjamin Franklin was baptized there.
At one time, the church owned five copies of the 6-by-5-inch hymnal. One is now at
the Library of Congress, another at Yale University and a third at Brown University.
Taylor says the church voted to sell one of its two remaining copies—both of which
are in "excellent condition" — to increase its grants, ministries and "strengthen our
voice in general as a progressive Christian church."
The book was published in Cambridge, Mass., by the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It came just 20 years after the Pilgrims landed at