Sep 28, 2023 - Sale 2646

Sale 2646 - Lot 172

Price Realized: $ 5,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
(JUDAICA.) Isaac Leeser, translator. The Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures, Carefully Translated . . . after the Best Jewish Authorities. iv, 1011 pages plus two blank leaves. Large 4to, original gilt morocco, rebacked with portion of original backstrip laid down; conservation to edges of first 6 leaves, otherwise minimal wear and toning to contents; all edges gilt; inscribed by early owner Benjamin F. Peixotto of Cleveland, OH on the front free endpaper, with his 4-page manuscript family register at rear. Philadelphia: [Isaac Leeser], 5614 [1853–54]

Additional Details

First edition. This is the first complete translation of the full Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) by a Jewish translator into English, building upon Leeser's 1845 translation of the five books of the Torah. Previous editions published by Jews in England had simply utilized the King James translation. Leeser's preface explains that this massive undertaking sprung from "a desire entertained for more than a quarter of a century, since the day he quitted school in his native land to come to this country, to present to his fellow-Israelites an English version, made by one of themselves, of the Holy Word of God." Readers would now "have an opportunity to study a version of the Bible which has not been made by the authority of churches in which they have no confidence." The result has been called the "most important book for two generations of Jews fully or partially absorbed into American society" (Tsevat, "A Retrospective View of Isaac Leeser's Biblical Work", 1958, offprint included), and was not superseded until 1917.

Early owner Benjamin F. Peixotto (1834-1890) of Cleveland, San Francisco and New York was an important American Jewish political and civic leader. He served as American consul to Romania from 1871 to 1876, and was instrumental in protecting Romanian Jews during a period of heavy persecution. The family register in the rear of the volume lists the births of Peixotto, his wife and their children, as well as his grandchildren by three of his children through 1892. The name change of son George da Maduro Peixotto, a noted artist, is also noted. In addition, on page 784, Psalm CXXI is marked in manuscript: "Sung at Papa's memorial service."

Goldman 12 ("first English translation of the complete Bible by a Jew"); Hills 1540; Singerman 1271; Wright, page 124.