I have a leaf that is supposed to be from the first edition, first printing, of the Authorized Version of the Bible from 1611. However, when I look at PDF versions, there are differences.

For example, looking at the 1611 The Authorized King James Bible, the chapter headings used "j" (as in xxiij instead of xxiii), the header phrases are partially capitalized, not all in lower case (eg, "for the Temple" instead of "for the temple"), and the spelling is different ("sonnes" instead of "sons").

So either I'm looking at a PDF of one of the later printings, or I have a later printing.

Does anybody know for sure the characteristics of the true first edition of the AV, versus the later printings?

To be clear, this is a folio sheet so it could be the first printing and the PDFs on the Internet could be later printings of the folio. (I don't have the page for Ruth 3:15, which would answer my question by having "he" instead of "she".)

The matter is complicated by the 1611 editions being printed by different printers. The PDF I see online seems to be a first printing, since it has "he" in Ruth 3:15. But maybe the differences I refer to above are from different printers instead of different printings? I need someone with a detailed bibliography of the 1611 AV.

  • Spelling was somewhat unstable in and around 1611. It wouldn't surprise me if a decision was made to change sonne to son; it also could have been an accidental printer error since books might have used either spelling. The i to j I don't think anyone would have cared about, if it was not in the actual text. There were huge i to j and u to v changes made deliberately later, of course. – disciple Feb 21 at 2:16
  • 1
    I don't know what you mean by saying that no one "cared about" the difference between 'i' and 'j'. They are clearly different letters, and in the chapter numbers on the top of every page they are printed in a very large type size. If one page has "xxiij" and the same page from another printing has "xxiii" they are clearly different printings from different settings of type. – D Mac Feb 21 at 17:00
  • Type settings had to be done frequently, because the plates wore out. xxii with i or j was the Roman numeral 23, and it was not part of the actual bible text. The print editions were not clearly identified as second third etc like they are today. The "he" "she" or "wicked" bibles existed because of typesetting errors. I doubt if we can identify each re-setting of the type, and in some cases a few pages that wore out early might have been reset. – disciple Feb 22 at 2:16
  • Back in 1611 they didn't print from "plates", they printed from metal type. Nothing would "wear out early"; they would print as many pages from the type as they planned to print (the "edition size"), redistribute the type and reuse it to make the next set of pages. The first printing had the "he" typo, which was corrected in the second printing to "she". – D Mac Feb 23 at 14:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.