November 30, 2012

Historic Boston church considers sale of rare hymnal

A Sotheby's executive calls the psalm book "the Gutenberg Bible of America," and says it could fetch $10 million to $20 million at auction.

The Associated Press

BOSTON — One of the nation's oldest churches is considering selling a copy of the first book ever published in British North America.

Members of the Old South Church in Boston on Sunday are scheduled to vote on whether to sell one of their two copies of the Bay Psalm Book, published in 1640, along with a collection of Colonial-era silver. They say the sale could help pay for repairs and assure the financial future of the church, established in 1669.

A Sotheby's executive calls the psalm book "the Gutenberg Bible of America," and says it could fetch $10 million to $20 million at auction. Just 11 copies remain.

The church's lay leadership has mostly endorsed the idea.

Some remain strongly opposed. Church historian Jeff Makholm calls the sale "preposterous and irresponsible."

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