An icon in American book collecting is expected to bring $40,000 or more at a rare book auction in Manhattan, this week, reports the Washington Post.

In 1782, towards the end of the American Revolution, Philadelphia printer Robert Aitken printed a rather patriotic pocket-sized Bible, authorised by Congress to be printed in the Colonies.

The printing of the book went against the authority of the King of England - as was any endorsement of the spiritual world - so Aitken only printed 10,000 copies.

The Bible's first page read: "[Congress] recommends this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States."

But, not long after, the war ended, higher quality Bibles were produced, and Aitken's pocket-sized tome was consigned to history.

Today, antiquarians estimate that 32 copies of the Bible of the Revolution still remain - 10 of which are thought to be in private hands.

Another Aitken Bible sold in 2008 for $60,000.

The Aitken Bible will be going on sale among a collection of more than 100 others being sold from the collection of Mel Meadows, a 59 year-old retired real estate developer in Manhattan.

He is also selling his copy of the Bay Psalm Book from circa 1682, the first book printed in British America.

It is one of the rarest books in American publishing and this is the first time an early edition has been put on the public market in nearly 25 years - it's priced at $40,000.

Meadows' collection also includes the famed 16th-century translation in Greek and Latin by Erasmus, the 1540 third edition of the Great Bible ("in Englysh"), a 1560 first edition of the Geneva Bible, and a 1568 first edition of the Bishops' Bible.

The Bay Psalm Book is only a few dozen pages, containing the Psalms set out for singing, and yet it is a landmark of national heritage.

First published in 1640, just 20 years after the Pilgrims landed, The Library of Congress dubs it "America's First Book."

"It's a modest, earnest production that speaks to the ingenuity of the settlers of Massachusetts Bay, the intensity of their devotion, and it gives us a glimpse into the world of the colony in 1640," Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collection division at the Library of Congress told the Washington Post.

"Because of who made it for whom, it's an intensely American book."

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