Ever in the interest of preserving history Salem Witch Museum senior staff received board approval to bid on the previously unknown seventh edition Mass Bay Psalm book signed by Elizabeth Corwin, wife of Salem witch trials judge Jonathan Corwin. The estimated auction price was set by Swann Auction House of New York at approximately $30,000 to $40,000, which we bid. However, there was a great deal of interest in the famed 17th century book which ultimately sold for an incredible $ 180,000 today. We are proud to have been part of this exciting opportunity.
The first edition of the Bay Psalm Book was one of the first books ever printed in the colonies and was a starting point in the forming of the Puritan colony. While any edition of the book is rare, the first edition has fetched nearly $14 million at auction.
The seventh edition belonging to the Corwins was purchased from a Boston printer in 1693, the year after the infamous trials. It later passed through several families and in the late 1800’s was acquired by a family in western New York who were descendants of witch trials victim John Proctor.
From a New England barn find, the museum recently purchased a bible stand of the period used by Essex County minister Reverend Moses Parson. It was our goal to display Mrs. Corwin’s Bay Psalm Book in context with the bible stand.