The 1776 Saur Bible was the first bible printed in America with American-made type. The third edition of the Saur bible, printed by the third Christopher Saur (1721-1784), the son of the Christopher Saur who printed the 1763 second edition and grandson of the printer of the 1743 first edition, is considered rare and highly collectible partly because of the bizarre stories that have followed it throughout history. Legend has it that the sheets for Saur’s 1776 third printing of the bible were ready for the binder but most of them ended up being destroyed when British soldiers invaded Germantown. The soldiers supposedly used the pages for cartridge paper or “gunwad”. In addition, to “gunwad”, the occupying British troops are said to have utilized the pages as firewood and horse bedding.
All the pages were said to have been destroyed except for 10 complete sets that were saved by Saur’s daughter, Catherine. The actual number of surviving pages has never been officially verified but it it is highly likely that very few complete sets survived.
Because Christopher Saur was a pacifist, he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the newly formed state of Pennsylvania. Sour was tried and convicted and as a result his property including his printing shop, was seized and liquidated at auction.
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