Bay Psalm witch trial book beats estimate by 452%

A previously unknown seventh edition printing of the Bay Psalm book, which has a connection to the Salem witch trials, has sold at Swann Auction Galleries.

The book beat its estimate of $40,000 by 452.5%, achieving $212,500.

Bay Psalm Swann
This previously unknown edition of the Bay Psalm book was published in Boston in 1693

Rick Stattler of Swann told the Boston Globe: "When I realized this was an edition that had never been known before — of one of the most important American books ever — I think that added more to the importance."

It turns out that in addition to being a very rare printing, the book was also owned by Jonathan Corwin - the judge at the witch trials in 1692.

Later on, in the 1800s, it was acquired by the family of innkeeper John Proctor - who was hanged as a witch alongside his wife Elizabeth.

Stattler went on: "It does give it an interesting twist. It has a double connection to the trials…

"Within the family, it was regarded as being important primarily because of the Jonathan Corwin connection."

The Bay Psalm book was first published in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640, making it the first book ever to be printed in America.

It features rudimentary translations of the psalms into English.

In 2013, a first edition copy sold for $14.2m at Sotheby's, setting a new world record for a printed book at auction.

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