King James Bible (1699)

This small-sized bible, printed in duodecimo format, would have been easy to transport and carry, and it was clearly a cherished object. The binding is lovely, carrying the initials of what was presumably the first owner, William Ainge, who also signed his name on the flyleaf in 1707.

Bibles like this one were very popular, and many households would have had one. Sometimes they are heavily marked up and show signs of much use, but this one seems to have been kept clean and preserved with care. An inscription, showing it had a female owner, Elizabeth Ainge, reads, “Elizabeth Ainge / Ex Dono Georgij / Ainge Patrii sui / 27 November / 1731” (Elizabeth Ainge / As a gift from George / Ainge her Father).

Bookseller Patrick Olsen suspects that William Ainge is possibly the person baptized in Stratford-on-Avon in 1649. I have found two baptismal records for children named Elizabeth born in Stratford-on-Avon at roughly the right time, both to George (b. about 1696) and Martha Ange. One was born on January 16, 1727 and died in that same year. A second was born on February 21, 1730 and also died young, on March 8, 1731. Since the inscription in the bible was made in November of that year, this seems a dead end. Perhaps the descendants of William Ainge of Stratford moved, the dates in the records are not correct, and we have to look further. Since Ainge is not an unusual name in early modern England, identification for now has to remain a matter of speculation.

Regardless of the precise identification of the owner, this bible shows that bibles were cherished and owned by female readers, and this one indicates a loving transmission from father to daughter of a book that had been passed down through the generations.

Source: Book offered for sale by Patrick Olson Rare Books on 10/6/2020. Images reproduced with permission.

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