London: R. Bowyer, 1795. Item #05223
The 'Killer Bible', Illustrated with Sixty-Two Copper-Engraved Plates from the Old Masters,
A Remarkably Fine Copy of the Large-Paper Edition
In a Wonderful Georgian Full Morocco Binding
[BIBLE IN ENGLISH]. The Holy Bible Ornamented with Engravings by James Fittler from Celebrated Pictures by Old Masters. The Letter Press by Thomas Bensley. London: R. Bowyer, 1795.
Two large quarto volumes (12 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches; 318 x 248 mm.). Unpaginated. Text in double columns. With two copper-engraved title-pages (with a separate title-page for the New Testament) and sixty-two plates (including two frontispieces) from the works of Dürer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens, and others. Lower corner of 3H3 (possible paper-fault) torn away with no loss of text. Some foxing to a few of the plates, otherwise remarkably bright and fresh.
Contemporary English full dark blue straight-grained morocco. Covers with two gilt borders surrounding blind-stamped Greek key design. Spines with five double raised bands ruled in gilt, blind-stamped Greek key design and lettered in gilt in compartments. Board-edges decorated in blind, elaborate gilt decorated turn-ins, gray liners and endleaves, all edges gilt. Gift signature to front flyleaf in volume one (dated 1841) and a tipped-in square of paper with another nineteenth century gift inscription. Some light scuffing to the boards, otherwise near fine.
A spectacular example of the large paper edition, which is dramatically larger than the regular one.
This Bible is remembered by many as the "Killer Bible" for its typographical error in Mark VII, verse 27: "Let the children be killed" rather than "filled."
However, it is more exemplary for its artistic design by some of England's most skilled book artists of the period.
James Fittler (1758-1835), who exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1788 to 1824 and was marine engraver to George III, is also known for his engravings for the Boydell Shakespeare and Dibdin's Aedes Althorpinae, though this Bible was probably his most ambitious literary project. Thomas Bentley, who printed the text, was known for his attractive editions including fine, large works for Thomas Macklin, Rudolph Ackermann, and Paul Colnaghi, all publishers of plate books, and was responsible for several of the earliest books for the Roxburghe Club.
ESTC lists three editions of the Bowyer and Fittler Bible: this one, which ESTC describes as the large paper edition; the regular two-volume quarto edition (also 1795); and a: two-volume twelvemo edition (1796), which was issued in parts.
ESTC records only seven copies of this large-paper issue: British Library; Cashel Cathedral Library; the Bodleian; University of Toronto; NYPL; Union Theological Seminary, and the University of Houston.
Herbert 1394. ESTC T95050.