1611 King James Bible: Why "He" and "She"?

1611 "He" KJV Bible.  A Rebacking we did in 2015.

1611 "He" KJV Bible.  A Rebacking we did in 2015.

We're often asked why we distinguish between "He" or "She" when we're talking about a first edition King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version.  Simply stated:  In the first printings of the 1611 KJV Bible there is a printing error, there were many printing errors throughout, but one specifically known is in the book of Ruth 3:15, "and he went into the city."  The correct printing should have been, "and she went into the city."  The first authorized printing of the King James Bible took three years, so in the collectors' world if one owns a 1611 "He" edition it is considered a true first printing, and those owning a "She" edition are considered to have the second printing anywhere between 1611 - 1613.  

Technically they're all 1611 versions, but in the collectors' world the "He" is more rare than the "She" and so it's important to distinguish between the two.  The first printing of the Authorized Version was split between three different printers:  Robert Barker, Bonham Norton, and John Bill.  They were all printing different sections of the Bible, and so there are several printing errors throughout, and any given copy probably has different printing errors from the others.   

1611/1613 "She" KJV Bible. This is a rebind we did in 2014, using old boards from a German Bible.

1611/1613 "She" KJV Bible. This is a rebind we did in 2014, using old boards from a German Bible.

We think the history of the King James Bible is fascinating, but we think all history is fascinating.  There are several online resources if you're interested in learning more.  Be sure to check with your local bookstore to see what books about the Bible they have.  We've listed a book below that may interest you as well.

Historical Rebind: 1611/13 "She" KJV Bible.

Before historical rebind - 1611/13 "She" KJV Bible.

Before historical rebind - 1611/13 "She" KJV Bible.

We had the pleasure of restoring and rebinding another 1611/13 King Jame Bible, "She" edition.  This will be our fourth!  It's always an honor to rebind these great historical books.  

We're pretty sure this cover is an original cover.  Our client however wisely wanted a new binding.  We saved the boards and are making an enclosure for them, which will stay with the book, I'm sure.  When rebinding a book this old, there is always going to be extensive paper conservation, which was the case in this book.  The cords were just okay, and we thought about leaving as much of the original cords as possible by splicing in new cord with the original.  When we thought about the time it would take to do that, we decided against it, also, new cords are better for the book than half rotten ones to ensure it will last another 400+ years.  

Here is the breakdown of the restoration and binding: 

  • Disbind, saving the original boards.
  • Paper mends throughout the text block.
  • Resewn text block with new cords.
  • New hand embroidered end-bands, aged to match  the original end-bands.
  • New binding in calf leather, hand dyed by us, on new wooden boards.
  • Historical leather tooling design in blind and gold. 
  • Just over 600 individual tool impressions (mostly on the spine).
  • Total time for this project 91 hours.