George Washington purchased this Bible for Martha Washington in New York on August 18, 1789. Martha signed her name on several of its pages. Martha's will did not specify who she wished to inherit the Bible, but five pages of handwritten family history contained within indicate it went to her youngest granddaughter, Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis Lewis. The Bible descended to Nelly's eldest daughter, who added a beautiful inscription that it provided Nelly "consolation for a load of sorrows, which without their guiding councils, she never could have sustained."
Book with brown leather calf binding, quarto size. The front and back covers are inlaid with lighter brown leather and embossed with gilt. The spine has embossed gilding. Pages have gilt edges. Signed by Martha Washington on the title page (signature no longer visible), on the dedicatory page to King James (faint), and on title page to the New Testament. Fly leaves preceding the frontispiece contain five pages of handwritten family history including the record of the marriage of Nelly Custis to Lawrence Lewis, and birth records of their eight children. On fly leaf opposite the first title page, newspaper clippings of obituaries for Eleanor Parke Custis, M. E. Angela Conrad, and Lawrence Lewis. Two pieces of ephemera are tucked into the pages of Genesis Chapter 37: a newspaper clipping of a poem reprinted from the Providence Gazette, and a watercolor of a flower signed by "ECL Carter." This Bible contains six fold-out maps and nearly 300 copperplate engravings executed by John Sturt. Bible is covered with strong, unbleached linen cloth. The linen cover is protected by a blue velvet cover. The Bible is stored inside a custom-made book box, which is golden-brown with the title embossed on it in gilt: THE / FAMILY BIBLE / OF / MARTHA WASHINGTON.
The full title of this book is THE HOLY BIBLE CONTAINING THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS: TRANSLATED OUT OF THE ORIGINAL TONGUES: AND WITH THE FORMER TRANSLATIONS DILIGENTLY COMPARED AND REVISED, BY HIS MAJESTY'S SPECIAL COMMAND: APPOINTED TO BE READ IN CHURCHES.
Leather, gilt, marbleized paper, ink, laid paper
Overall: 11 1/4 in. x 9 1/2 in. x 5 in. (28.58 cm x 24.13 cm x 12.7 cm)
Other (book box): 12 3/8 in. x 10 1/2 in. x 5 7/8 in. (31.43 cm x 26.67 cm x 14.92 cm)
Gift of Esther Maria Lewis, 1951
First title page, bottom center, above publication information, in brown ink: Martha Washington / 1789
Note: This signature was entirely obliterated during conservation treatment, but a photograph of the title page with this signature is located in the object file.
Dedicatory page to King James, center, above text, in brown ink: Martha Washington her Book - 1789
Note: This signature is now extremely faint due to damage during conservation treatment.
Title page to the New Testament, center of top half of page, below "Testament," in brown ink: Martha Washington / 1789
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