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The Story

FIRST EDITION 1611 KJV LEAVES

Get an Original Leaf from

One of the First King James Bibles Ever Printed

Rarely, if ever, does the average person get a chance to be part of anything truly historic.

The first printing of the King James Bible in the year 1611 was one of those events—truly historic—even from the world’s perspective.

Imagine what it would be like if you were in London in 1611…

The printer hands you one of the first pages as it comes off the press.

It’s large, measuring almost 16″ × 11″ (a coincidence?). It is pulpit Bible–sized; intended to be read from the pulpit in a church setting.

The dark black letter typeface is distinctive.

And the paper is made up of rags; recycled clothing that will last for centuries (unlike today’s wood pulp paper that disintegrates quickly over time).

You are excited because you’re holding in your hands the pure words of the living God; Holy Scripture in the English language. Not some paraphrase equivalent or accurate translation of a corrupted text.

And these pages are destined to change the world. The page you’re holding is one of the first of literally billions that will be reproduced. There will be no other book like it.

But more importantly, you’re holding in your hands a production of the Scriptures that the Lord has provided to you in fulfilling his promise to preserve his words.

What a privilege.

In a minute, I'm going to tell you how you can pick out one of these very pages for yourself or a loved one, but first I need to tell you the story of how this all came about.

 

The Story

It's 1991 and a Bible believer named Jack McElroy, with a love for God’s word acquires a nearly complete first printing, first edition King James Bible published in 1611.

This successful entrepreneur lays out tens of thousands of dollars not only to acquire this copy but also to advertise these original leaves to other Bible believers like himself.

He creates a catalog in which he describes the original leaves for sale.

All-told, the project costs him north of $100,000.

He becomes the first person to index almost every leaf of the original King James 1611 and locate one particular verse on each leaf that “stands out” from the rest.

He sells lots of the leaves but doesn’t sell them all. Over the next 25 years he gets involved in other projects and no longer actively markets his remaining inventory of leaves.

Early 90's back cover advertisement in Christian History Magazine

I’ve have made his old catalog available to you in a pdf format. You can download it using the link below.

It was done 25 years ago when the pages were heavily marketed in ads that ran in Christian History Magazine, Biblical Archaeology Review, The Robb Report, Art & Antiques, and others. Many of the pages were sold, but the good news is that there are still some available.

Fast-forward to today
McElroy Rare Bible Collection is offering the pages that Jack still has left from that historic first edition, first printing of the King James Bible in 1611. 

 

The pedigree of your page––A Great “He” Bible

The leaves you have the opportunity to acquire come from the first edition, first printing of this historic book.

 

This edition has become known as the Great "He" Bible. The second printing, which some refer to as the second edition, has become known as the Great "She" Bible.

The distinction comes from the reading in Ruth 3:15, "and he went into the citie" versus the reading, "and she went into the citie." The "he" reading is from the first edition and the "she" reading is from the second edition.

First Edition He Bibles are Rare and Valuable

"He Bibles always bring more at auction or in private sale than "She Bibles because they are 

rarer and therefore more valuable.

It’s unknown how many initial copies were printed but it’s been estimated that only 1,500–2,000 copies comprised the first edition.

 

Photo of the original page reading "he" in Ruth 3:15

For example, Dr. Charles Ryrie, author of the Ryrie Study Bible owned a First Edition He Bible. It was sold at a Sotheby's auction on December 5, 2016 in New York for $396,500.

Actually, five large Black Letter, pulpit Bible editions were printed: The First Edition 1611 (He Bible), the second 1611/1613 (She Bible), followed by printings in 1617, 1634, 1639/40. All later editions read "she" in Ruth 3:15 as do all the King James Bibles today.

All of these editions had the same 59 lines of Black Letter typeface on each page and the pages were virtually interchangeable. 

And this creates a serious problem for buyers of the King James Bible pages...

The risk to buyers online today is that you can find "first edition 1611 King James Bible leaves" for sale, but the problem is you can't be sure which of the five editions they come from.

 

For example, look at this ad for a "First Edition" bible leaf. It's from 1617! (But at least he told you so.) 

 

 

Others MAY be selling “He Bible” pages and still others don’t know or worse, don’t care which edition they come from.

Rest assured you won't be getting any mislabeled leaves from McElroy's Bible.

Jack McElroy paid top dollar to get an authentic first edition, first printing “He” Bible.

 

In addition to the actual Ruth 3:15 “He” leaf (which is still available), McElroy’s Bible also had the distinguishing reading in Exodus 14:10 where the phrase “the children of Israel lift vp their eyes, and beholde, the Egyptians marched after them, and they were sore afraid:” is repeated and the other distinctions as well.

You can read a good analysis of the difference in value and importance between the “He” and “She” Bibles here.

Proof of Authenticity

Each leaf comes with a Certificate of Authenticity specifying that the leaf you will receive is from a 1611 First Edition, First Printing “He” Bible.

Pricing and Package

The prices shown in the downloadable catalogue were for the leaves and framing services we used to offer. The pricing has been updated on the website for each individual leaf package which includes: 

(1) A leaf of your own choosing

(2) A facsimile of the original Title Page

(3) A label that identifies it as coming from the King James Bible First Edition 1611 (should you decide to frame the leaf)

(4) A Certificate of Authenticity

How You can use the pages...

Since we no longer sell the pages framed, this gives you the flexibility on how you can use these leaves from this 1611 First Edition, First Printing "He Bible:

  1. Show and Tell. They are, first of all, great for show and tell about how we got the Bible, or for a “How we got the Bible” lesson, but especially for showing when explaining why the King James Bible is the word of God in the English language. You can have your kids, congregation, Sunday school class, or youth group actually see, touch, and feel history––real history. They’ll be able to handle a leaf from one of the most significant books ever printed on the face of the earth.
         You’ll be able use these leaves to brag on the word of God, brag on the book, and brag on the fact that God has kept his promises to give us his word.

  2. They make great gifts. You can honor your pastor or treat a special person who treasures the King James Bible this Christmas season.

  3. They make a statement. You can frame it to hang in your home as a symbol of your faith in God keeping his promise to provide his words to us. Owning one of these leaves tells something about who you are and what you believe.

  4. It’s a valuable family heirloom. What greater keepsake to pass down to your children and grandchildren than this piece of original biblical history. It tells something about what you value in life.
         It’s not a painting. It’s not a sculpture. It’s not some artifact. It’s a page that contains the words of the living God from one of the most important books ever printed on the face of the earth.
         It’s a book that has sold literally billions of copies. A book that gives the words of life to hungry souls and dying sinners. And it’s the book that our faith is founded on.
         No other Bible has had the effect that the King James Bible has had. It’s your biblical heritage. It’s a public statement about your belief in the book. It’s a heritage you can leave for your kids.

 

Click the link below to download a copy of the Original 1611 KJV Leaf Brochure* 

*Some of the passages shown in Brochure may not still be available. Prices shown in brochure do not represent current market prices and have been adjusted in the Shop.