Note: Although technically the 1782 Aitken Bible was the first English language Bible printed in America; nobody could actually purchase those Bibles at the time, as they were meant to be given to soldiers. Also, those 1782 editions cost over $100,000 each today. This 1791 Collins Bible is the first English language Bible printed in America that was also offered publically for sale in America. It is a King James Version, and it widely considered to be the first English language American Family Bible.
The Beginnings of the American Family Bible
The Holie Bible … Trenton [ New Jersey]: Isaac Collins, 1791.
This is the first Bible to be printed in New Jersey and the first to be printed by Isaac Collins, a Quaker. In order to comply with the varying sentiments regarding the inclusion of the Apocrypha and marginal commentary, Collins provided subscribers to this edition the choice of including or excluding them in their personal copies.
From the preliminary matter: “As the Dedication of the English translation of the Bible to King James the First of England seems to be wholly unnecessary for the purposes of edification, and perhaps on some accounts improper to be continued in an American edition, the Editor has been advised by some judicious friends to omit it.”
This edition is particularly well respected for the accuracy of its text and was used as the primary sourcebook for the Noah Webster Bible of 1833.
Once freed from British restraint, the King James Bible flourished in America. By 1800 there were already seventy printings of the King James Bible by American printers, and by 1840 over a thousand. The American “Family Bible” — large and extensively illustrated — became a fixture in the 19th and 20th Century American home. This 1791 Isaac Collins Family Bible is an example of the beginning of that historical trend.