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Chapter 3 - Sanctifying Commodity: The English Bible Trade around the Atlantic, 1660–1799

from Part II - Versions of Biblical Authority

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2021

Kevin Seidel
Affiliation:
Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia
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Summary

Chapter 3 tabulates the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) entries for extant Bibles held in libraries around the world today and discuss what the ESTC data can and cannot tell us about the eighteenth-century Bible trade. An overview of the history of the trade, particularly of the career of John Baskett, royal printer in London from 1710 to 1742, described by an early historian of the Bible trade as “one of the greatest monopolists of Bibles who ever lived” (Lee 179) shows that the number of ESTC catalogue entries do not correlate to changes in the popularity of the Bible. However, the ESTC data does tell us about shifts in the competitiveness or relative openness of the English Bible trade and the book trade more generally. The Bible becomes a nongovernmental book after the 1730s, and the geographical centers of English Bible production shift from Amsterdam and Oxford in the 1680s to London in the early 1700s to Cambridge and Edinburgh in the 1760s. This chapter also describes a variety of cultural associations that the English Bible accrues through its commodification in the period: a charity gift, an overseas book, and a luxury item.

Type
Chapter
Information
Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel
The Bible in English Fiction 1678–1767
, pp. 67 - 93
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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