The 1791 Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas was one of the most successful printers in Colonial America. During the Revolutionary War, Thomas moved his presses to Worchester, Massachusetts. There, in 1791 Isaiah Thomas published the first Illustrated Bible printed in America. (Many historians believe that his production was completed just days after Isaac Collins completed his Bibles that same year). Thomas produced his 1791 Bible (KJV) in two forms: a large folio of two volumes, and a smaller but still quite large, royal quarto of one volume.
One very curious thing about the Bibles of Isaiah Thomas is that although they are technically the first illustrated Bibles printed in America, with 50 large copperplate engravings, it is very rare to find a copy that has any engravings at all. This is most likely because the “optional” engravings double the cost of the Bible, and most people could only afford the version without illustrations. In addition to offering the Bible without the engravings, Thomas further attempted to assist his customers by offering to accept up to half the price in the form of “wheat, rye. corn, butter, or pork.”