Rare 'Sinners' Bible' containing unfortunate typo in the Ten Commandments up for sale

An unfortunate omission means the Seventh Commandment reads: 'Thou shalt commit adultery.'

Samuel Osborne@SamuelOsborne93
Wednesday 21 October 2015 07:41
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The first issue of the first edition of the 'Authorised Version' of the English Bible, printed in London in 1611 by Robert Barker. Commissioned by King James I, it is also known as the King James Version.
The first issue of the first edition of the 'Authorised Version' of the English Bible, printed in London in 1611 by Robert Barker. Commissioned by King James I, it is also known as the King James Version.

A rare 400-year-old Bible containing a typo in the Ten Commandments encouraging people to have affairs has been put up for sale.

The "Sinners' Bible" or "Wicked Bible" contains an unfortunate omission which means the Seventh Commandment reads: "Thou shalt commit adultery."

The book is one of just a handful of remaining copies which were printed by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the Royal printers, in 1631.

It is tipped to fetch £15,000 at auction, the Daily Mail reports.

The mistake was only discovered a year after 1,000 copies were printed, causing an uproar in conservative Anglican Britain.

Simon Roberts, from Bonhams' books and manuscript department, told The Mail: "There are a few theories about how the error made it into print.

"It may have been a simple slip up but others think it was a plot to sabotage Barker's reputation."

The mistake led to Robert Barker's downfall. In 1635 he was imprisoned for racking up huge debts and died behind bars in 1645.

King Charles I was outraged that such a flagrant mistake had been made and ordered the books to be withdrawn and burn, but some survived being destroyed.

The king summoned the printers to the Star Chamber in Westminster and they were stripped of their printing licence and fined £300, the equivalent of £44,600 today.

The mistake also enraged George Abbot, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, who later wrote:

"I knew the tyme [sic] when great care was had about printing, the Bibles especially, good compositors and the best correctors were gotten being grave and learned men, the paper and the letter rare, and faire every way of the beste, but now the paper is nought, the composers boyes, and the correctors unlearned."

Only nine copies of the book are thought to remain, making them incredibly rare.

The auction will take place on November 11 at Bonhams in London.

A copy of the Wicked Bible was offered for sale online in 2010, priced at $89,500 (£58,030).

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