The Illuminated Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, Translated Out of the Original Tongues. Embellished with Sixteen Hundred Engravings by J.A. Adams, More Than Fourteen Hundred of which are From Original Designs by J.G. Chapman.

New York: Harper & Brothers, 1846. First edition. A spectacular copy of this remarkable Bible, "the first notable American effort to produce a richly illustrated book" with the genealogy of Joseph Mezzetti, a very early Italian emigrant to the United States, eventually naturalizing in Jul 1833.

Giuseppe Mezzetti was born in Lucca Italy on 19 Mar 1800. He married Elizabeth Carter (b. 8 Aug 1810, Albany NY) on 20 Dec 1825 in NYC. The births of their three children are recorded - son Joseph Jr, b. 16 Jun 1828; dau. Angeline b. 3 May 1832; son George Washington b. 22 Feb 1837. He was naturalized in New York City on the 11 Jul 1833, renouncing allegiance to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Angeline m. William H. Wayne 29 Mar 1858, Cromwell, Essex, NJ. Their son Joseph Wayne was b. 22 Dec 1859.
The only death recorded is Joseph Sr. died "at 15 minutes to 4 o'clock p.m., aged 58 years, 3 months, 9 days, Our Father".

Italians were rare emigrants at this time, most migration coming from Britain and Germany.
A statistical summary published in the "Census Population of the United States in 1860" showed that in 1820-30, a total of 438 Italians arrived in the US from Italy, Sicily and Sardinia. [Marraro, Howard A. Italians in New York First Half Nineteenth Century. New York History July 1945 issue, Vol XXVI, No. 3, p. 279. ]

Mezzetti was a manufacturer of plaster, cement, etc. His business is listed in NYC directories in 1843 & 1850 at 227 William St.. In the 1850 Census, he is living in NYC with his wife and 3 children in Ward 4, with a real estate value of $10,000. No one else on the page has any real estate value listed at all. He clearly was very successful, as shown by his real property and purchase of this sumptuous Bible.

The bible first appeared in parts in 1843. This is the first issue in book form, with illustrations that took six years to complete at the astounding cost of $20,000. According to Hills, engraver J. A. Adams "is credited with having taken the first electrotype in America from a woodcut." Frank Weitenkampf notes: "... this Harper publication was a remarkable production for its time and place and retains its importance in the annals of American book-making... The first notable American effort to produce a richly illustrated book" W. J. Linton, noted wood-engraver and author, knew 'no other book like this, so good, so perfect in all it undertakes.'" Hills, "English Bible in America" 1161; Herbert 1860: see also Exman, The House of Harper, pp 34-35, and Weitenkampf, American Graphic Art.

This copy has a spectacular decorated binding. Bound in full green calf, gilt decorated spine in six panels, the front cover with gilt rules, scrolls and flowers, and a central scene of Jews blowing horns as Roman soldiers look on, with the caption "And, he said, Nay But as Captain of the Host of the Land Am I Come". The image on the back cover is of Jesus descending, with the caption "This is my beloved Son, hear him". Gilt inner and outer dentelles.

Thick small folio, 13 1/2 x 10 1/2", all edges gilt. 2 plts, half title, title, 4 engraved preliminary leaves; 844pp, [1] engraved title "Apocrypha"; 128pp, [3] leaves (genealogical records for the Mezzetti family) frontis; title page, New Testament, 256pp, 3pp (Table of Proper Names); 1pp (Tables); 8pp (Chronological Index to the Holy Bible); 14pp (Index to Subjects); 34pp (Concordance). A little light rubbing at extremes, a small damp mark on lower right ffep & two blank prelims otherwise extraordinarily. Item #26908

Price: $4,500.00