Friday, 14 January 2011

The Vinegar Bible

As printer to King George II and to the University of Oxford between 1711 and his death in 1742, John Baskett was responsible for printing many fine books. However his name is remembered above all for his 1717 imprint of the Holy Bible. This particular edition, which contains many neo-classical engravings by James Thornhill and Michael van der Gucht, could have been one of the highlights of Baskett's career. Instead so many printing mistakes were made that people referred to his Bible as a "Baskett-ful of errors." One of the most famous misprints occured in the page heading in Luke 20:9, where "The Parable of the Vineyard" became "The Parable of the Vinegar", hence the nickname of 'Vinegar Bible.'

Only a handful of copies of the 'Vinegar Bible' still exist. Sadly, because of their high value among collectors, two copies were stolen four years ago from the churches of Twyford in Hampshire and Clyst St Lawrence in Devon.

Many past editions of the Bible are riddled with mistakes. A favourite of mine must be Robert Barker's 1631 edition of the King James Bible, known as 'The Wicked Bible' because the word 'not' was omitted from the Seventh Commandment, leaving one to read "Thou shalt commit adultery." Earlier editions of the Bible by Barker were also full of typographical errors but this time the offence was so serious he was fined £300 -a pretty hefty sum at the time. Most copies were recalled and burnt, although around a dozen survived.


  1. They say that vinegar is really good for you.
    I wonder what kind of thrashing some printers'-apprentice received over this....typo....? Can't be a typo....maybe it's a preview of the sequel to "The Parable of the Vinyard" wine left go too long turns to vinegar...?
    If only they'd known the relative value that these defective copies would acquire in our time...when what's-wrong gets way more exposure than what's-right!
    Thanks for the informative post.

  2. I live in Victoria Australia and have a Bible that has hand written history of the passed down owners in one family and came to Australia in 1922, in side the center I have found a reference to the edition from the Australian Bible Society IE THE VINEGAR BIBLE, can anyone direct me to the relevant authorities or institution that would be interested in contacting me about this Bible please, email me at


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