Folio, pp. ; , with an engraved portrait frontispiece but not the additional engraved title-page; ‘Pious and learned annotations upon the New Testament’ has a divisional title-page and a separate register; frontispiece and title-page very worn, backed in the nineteenth-century with a draft manuscript letter to the representatives of the Baptist Churches of Philadelphia; purchase inscription to divisional title verso of Rev. David Philips dated 20 May 1786, and to final page ‘bought of Wyllys Pierson’ (with Pierson’s inscription above) bound for (and/or by) him in an amateur binding of calf, covers panelled in blind and with the large initials D and P composed from binder’s (or, we think, possibly saddler’s) tools, spine tooled with hearts and a distinctive leaf-shape tool with spots; edges stained black, endpapers composed from several overlaid leaves from the Philadelphia Gazette of 1806 and 1807 (wormed); joints neatly restored, one front endpaper replaced.
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Pious and learned Annotations upon the Holy Bible. Plainly expounding the most difficult Places thereof … the fourth Edition …
An intriguing late eighteenth-century amateur binding from the American Mid-West, possibly decorated with saddler’s tools, and with interesting early American provenance, on the fourth edition in English of the Swiss-Italian Calvinist theologian Giovanni Diodati’s Annotationes in Biblia (1607), first published 1643.
Provenance: 1) Wyllys Pierson (1728–1810), plausibly inherited from his father Rev. John Pierson (1689–1770), a founding father of Princeton and on its board of governors for nineteen years; Wyllys’s grandfather Abraham Pierson was the first President of Yale. Wyllys himself was a blacksmith in Rockaway, NJ, but had moved to Western Pennsylvania by 1775 and later settled in Ohio.
2) Bought of him, in May 1786, for £1 10s, by the pioneer Baptist preacher David Philips (1742–1829), and bound for and/or by him in this unusual binding with his large initials on the covers. Born in Wales, Philips emigrated with his family to Chester County, Pennsylvania, in c. 1755. Along with his three brothers he served with distinction in the Revolutionary War, as a captain in the 7th Chester County Battalion 1777-1780, a unit that he raised. On the war’s conclusion in 1783 Philips moved to pioneer country in southwestern Pennsylvania, where he became pastor of the Peters Creek Baptist church in what is now Library, Pennsylvania, a post he kept until 1824. He was the outstanding preacher in his district, later becoming co-organizer of the First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh (f. 1812). Among his flock at Peters Creek was Sidney Rigdon, who was to become the right-hand man of Joseph Smith in the Church of Latter Day Saints. Early in Philips’s tenure at Peters Creek, he is known to have represented his county in Pittsburgh to protest against the whiskey tax; a later account of the resulting ‘whiskey rebellion’ (Sim Greene, by Richard T. Wiley) mentions that Philips was known as ‘Preaching David’ to distinguish him from another so-named in the vicinity: ‘I was surprised to learn that he was a minister, for he was dressed in homespun and had been doing a full share all morning in the arduous work of building up the log house’. Such a man might surely undertake to bind his own books, especially given the distance from a professional bindery.
Wing D 1508.
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