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1st Bible printed in the United States

“The first Bible to be printed in America was in a native American tongue. The first seal of the Massachusetts colony included the picture of a native American speaking the words “Come and help us” (from Acts 16:9). Sharing the Gospel with the natives was an early aim of the colony. John Eliot, pastor in Roxbury, Massachusetts, was especially concentrated on learning Algonquian and developing a written language for the natives. In 1663, he printed the Indian Bible. The actual printing of this Bible took three years.” Source:


The long “s”

Question: Why is the “s” sometimes and “s” and sometimes an “f”?”

Answer: This is what is known as a “long s”. It does look like an “f”, except that a “long s” does not have a horizontal crossbar on the right side. It can be credited to Guttenberg and the first generation of printers in Germany in the late 1400’s. When they invented movable type printing, they wanted the letters to look similar to fancy late Middle Age way of writing by hand. The thick font that they came up with is what we call today “Blackletter”, “Gothic”, or “Old English.” When in the early 1500’s, the simpler and more readable “Roman” and “Italic” fonts became popular, the “long-s” was still retained. The long-s was used all over Europe, the United States , and all over the Western world until the 1790’s.

A long-s is still pronounced the same way as the standard “short-s.” We know this because the capital letter of both a long-s and a short-s is the same standard “S.”

The long-s was used in place of a standard s, except for the following places: (1) at the end of a word, (2) before or after the letter “f”, and (3) before the letter “b”, and (4) before the letter “k.” Rules (3) and (4) are really suggestions, and differed according to the printer. Between 1750 and 1800, it was actually more common to see the long-s before the “b” and “k” than it was in earlier eras. In some rare cases, I have seen where in a pair, only the first “s” was long, and the second one was short. If a word is abbreviated, such as “Thessalonians” to “Thess.”, it was usually customary to retain the long-s before the period, but any other time the last “s” of a word was a short “s.”

I hope this was helpful.

Page sizes in the 18th century

The books from the 18th century are often described by the size of the paper they were printed on. Printers would start with a large sheet of paper called a broadside, then fold/cut the paper down to various sizes depending on the desired size of the finished book. What is known as a “folio” book results when the broadside is folded/cut in half resulting in four printed pages in this largest sized book. The “quarto” book is made by folding this same large sheet of paper in half twice and cutting it. This results in eight printed pages in the quarto book. You might also hear books called “octavo”. The octavo book results from the broadside being folded over and over until the end result consists in sixteen smaller printed pages. You may sometimes also encounter a “duodecimo” edition which gets twenty-four printed pages cut from the broadside. As I said, each of the different sized book pages first originates from a single large sheet of paper that is folded in half then cut. These two sheets can be then folded in half and then cut again, and so on and so on until the desired sized book is achieved. The octavo book pages measure around 8” x 5”. This is roughly a quarter of the size of the large folio books that are found on church lecterns and other places where large print books would be easier to read due to their larger font. To review: Folio books have one fold; Quarto books have two; Octavo books have three; Duodecimo books have four folds and Sextodecimo books have five. Each fold/cut produces four pages on which to print on, but the pages are different sizes. The folio gives four printed pages; the quarto gives eight; the octavo gives sixteen; the duodecimo gives twenty-four; and the sextodecimo gives thirty-two pages – all originating from one large individual sheet of paper. Our 1733 New Testament and our 1734 Book of Common Prayer are both approximately a quarto. However, due to the size of modern laid paper, but mostly because of the constraints of our printer, our mentioned books are reduced in size by about ten percent.