This Providence example proclaims itself to be “the third edition, with amendments,” and its position in the sequence of American thumb Bibles is still unclear. The first one appears to have been printed in New York in 1750, with a second being printed in Boston in 1765. But there are undated editions in Boston and Philadelphia that have attributed dates of between 1765 and 1769, and just when this book was printed is problematic: Welch dated it as 1768, the year Waterman began printing; yet research shows that Waterman used the term “at the Paper Mills” as opposed to “at the Paper Mill” on imprints beginning in 1773.
Suffice to say, the little book here offered is among the earliest American thumb Bibles—and one of the rarest. NAIP locates only six copies, of which only the Pierpont Morgan Library copy is complete and without mutilated leaves, while all of the others lack from two to more than 45(!) leaves, or have two or more mutilated leaves.
Provenance: At rear, the inscription, “Catharine Greene, her Bible, 1784”; on the back of that leaf, “Anny Brown, Her Bible, 1777” (or possibly, '79). Catharine Greene announced her ownership twice more on a second blank leaf, undated, with one iteration much faded, and on a third blank she has written: “Catharine Greene her Book God give Her eyes therein to look.” On the title-page is the one-word undated ownership inscription, “Eliot.”
Adomeit, Three Centuries of Thumb Bibles, A156; Welch, Bibliography of American Children's Books Printed Prior to 1821, 1293.5; Evans 11086; Alden, Rhode Island, 566. Not in Rosenbach, Early American Children's Books. Publisher’s plain brown sheep over wood boards. Without the half-title (only). Foremargins of final section (“Prayers”) irregular with short tears; a few pages lightly printed. Text separating a little from binding between signatures F & G—but, sound. A charming, remarkably good early American example of an interesting and important religious and printing phenomenon; a copy with engaging, evocative ownership marks.