1819 · Lancaster, Pa.
Johann Bär's 1819 German Luther Bible (in fraktur type, a.k.a., "black letter") was the first complete Bible printed in "Lancaster, [Penn]" and the=> first folio German Bible printed in America: It was an impressive production — large in size, set on good paper, and the type pleasantly laid out and neatly impressed in double-column format. The frontispiece, engraved by J. Henry and showing Moses with the tables of the law, is appealing.
In the preliminaries, the double-column text includes a brief biography of Luther and an essay by the famous Pietist August Herman Franke (1663–1727) advising how to read Scripture. The printer was only 19 years old when he undertook this massive project and despite the numerous subscribers listed on five preliminary pages in four-cloumn format, he was nearly bankrupted by the enterprise.
In the upper outer corner of the front pastedown is the large printed binder's label of "Henrich Miller, buchbinder, in der Ost – Dranien Strasse, gegeneuber der Lancaster.
O'Callaghan 146; Shaw & Shoemaker 47206; Arndt & Eck, German Language Printing in the U.S., 2363. Contemporary calf over wood boards, evidence of metal and leather clasp closures; leather perished, joints (outside) open, front board much loosened but holding tenuously and rear board more securely attached. Foxing and brown staining, as usual. Lacks the plate opposite the New Testament title-page. A good copy only yet still => a touching "story" and a touchstone American Bible. (Inventory #: 35752)