Copyrights, Printing, & the Business of Bible Versions

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by franklinmonroe, Jun 13, 2007.

  1. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
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    In my research I came upon an interesting webpage. It is hosted by the small village of Datchet on the Thames River in England. The town is proud to claim a famous son by the name of Robert Barker, a royal printer (his father first, and also later some of his sons). The family wealth was a result of monopolistic contracts (we might call copyrights) held and passed. This statement about his father --

    In 1582 Christopher Barker listed the patents he held for himself: the Old and New Testaments, all Statutes of the Realm, the Book of Common Prayer, all Royal Proclamations and Erasmus's Book of Homilies, from which parish priests read their sermons. In 1583 he is known to have owned five printing presses in London and claimed that the capital expense of these presses, typefaces and skilled workmen required a guaranteed market for his books that only the monopoly could provide.​

    A different source states that "Barker became interested in the printing trade and is first heard of as a publisher in 1569. In 1576 he started on his career as a Bible printer, having obtained a privilege to print the Geneva version of the Bible in England. In 1577 he purchased from Sir Thomas Wilkes, Clerk of the Privy Council, an extensive patent which included the Old and New Testament in English, with or without notes, of any translation." (University of Glasgow, 1977 exhibition titled Printing in England from William Caxton to Christopher Barker).

    Many posters here may be familar with the fine imposed upon Robert Barker because of a printer's error in an edition of the King James text which came to be known as the "Wicked Bible" (1631). Much of his financial problems were a result of his own ambition, but he also had to contend with difficult business issues; years later Barker's grandson would wrangle with a former sharholder's heir over the rights to the KJV manuscript (which Robert had supposedly purchased for £3,500 in 1610). More details can found at http://www.datchet.com/users/history/Robert Barker complete/robert_barker.htm

    Copyrights were a common English business practice, the need probably arising shortly after printing presses in England! Henry VIII wrote this 'patent' in 1535 for the printing of the Great Bible which in part states --
    To all and singular Pryinters and sellers of bookes within this oure realme... the lord Crumwell keper of our pryvye seale to take for vs and in oure name speciall cure and charge that no manner of persone or persones within this oure realme shall enterprise attempte or sett in hande to print any bible in english tonge of any maner of volume duryng the space of fyue yeres... (Records of the English Bible: The Documents Relating to the Translation and Publication of the Bible in English, 1525-1611 by Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press, London, 1911).​

    King Henry further protected his book (and Bible) printers with this proclamation in 1538 --
    That no persons or persons in this realm shall from henceforth printe any booke in the Englishe tong unless uppon examination made by some of his Grace's pryvie counsaile or other such as His Highness shall appoint they have lycence so to do and have yet so havynge nott to put these words Cum privilegio regali without addying Ad imprimendum solum, and that the hole copie, or els at the least theffect of his licence and privilege be therwith printed, and playnely declared and expressed in the Englishe tonge underneth them. (Modern Language Notes, Volume XXXVIII, March 1923, Number 3)​

    BYW, Thomas Cromwell was the leading figure behind the Great Bible and had once been so influential with Henry VIII that he was in essence a viceroy. He unfortunately negotiated a marriage of Henry to Anne (sister of the duke of Cleves as part of an alliance plan with German princes) and Henry found her so unappealing that he was refused to consummate the marriage. Shortly thereafter he became receptive to the complaints of Cromwell’s enemies; Parliament obediently voted Cromwell guilty of treason without trial, and he was beheaded in 1540.
     
    #1 franklinmonroe, Jun 13, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 13, 2007
  2. labaptist

    labaptist
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    I wonder what the manuscript to the KJV would go for on eBay.
     
  3. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
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    The printers of the Geneva Bible had legal protection

    In Geneva John Bodley was associated with the scholar William Whittingham and others in the printing of their English translation of the Bible, known as the Geneva or, less respectfully, the Breeches Bible. This was printed by Rowland Hall on a press set up by the English refugees. Bodley seems to have had an early interest in the undertaking. In the archives of Geneva there is a record dated 2 December 1558 containing a petition which formed part of a dispute between John Bodley and William Williams on the one part and Jacques Chappellez and the widow of Jean Girard on the other over the wish of Bodley and Williams to have a stove in the printing office they operated in the house of the late Jean Girard (Rose-Troup 17). This may have been to cast types or, more likely, to warm compositors' fingers in the cold Swiss winter. After the accession of Elizabeth John Bodley obtained permission to leave Geneva on 5 September 1559, about three weeks after Miles Coverdale had received similar permission. Others stayed behind to complete the translation which appeared with a prefatory epistle dated from Geneva 10 April 1560 (STC 2093). It bore all the hallmarks of humanist printing. It was in a smaller quarto format than most previous Bibles, was the first English version to use Roman type and to be divided into verses.

    Back in England John Bodley received a royal patent dated 8 January 1561 (Patent Roll 3 Eliz pt 13, m. 34), granting him the monopoly for seven years in distributing the Geneva Bible and a second edition appeared in 1562 (STC 2095).

    Already in 1565 Bodley was applying for an extension of twelve years. Archbishop Parker and Bishop Grindall of London wrote to Sir William Cecil that they supported this. They wrote: "... we thinke so well of the first impression, and reviewe of those whiche have sitens travailed therin, that we wishe it wold please you to be a meane that twelve yeres longer terme maye by speciall privilege graunted him in consideracion of the charges by him and his associats in the first impression, and the reviewe sithens, susteyned." Nothing appear to have come of this, perhaps because some of the more extreme puritanical annotations had displeased the Queen. Not until Christopher Barker acquired the privilege in 1576 did a regular series of editions begin to appear (STC 2117 etc). (A History of the Book in Devon: 33. The Reformation in Devon by Ian Maxted, 2001) ​
     
  4. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
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    History of copyright according to Wikipedia

    A paragraph from the article --
    The first copyright privilege in England bears date 1518 and was issued to Richard Pynson, King's Printer, the successor to William Caxton. The privilege gives a monopoly for the term of two years. The date is 15 years later than that of the first privilege issued in France. Early copyright privileges were called "monopolies," particularly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who frequently gave grants of monopolies in articles of common use, such as salt, leather, coal, soap, cards, beer, and wine. The practice was continued until the Statute of Monopolies was enacted in 1623, ending most monopolies, with certain exceptions, such as patents; after 1623, grants of Letters patent to publishers became common. The period of common-law copyright for Great Britain was brought to a close by the Act of Queen Anne in 1709. ​
     

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