King James – 1611 “HE” – Psalms 23-27


“The Lord is my Shepherd”


In stock

SKU: AB1611KJ084 Categories: ,


PSALMS 23-27 (in their entirety). “The Lord is my Shepheard, I Shall Not Want” (23:1). FIRST EDITION. FIRST ISSUE. Known as The Great “HE” Bible, the first and rarest edition of the King James Bible. That this leaf is a true “He” variant is proved by the exact woodcuts and the exact wording that matches exactly those found in all “He” variant bibles and their printed facsimiles (see pics). In this case, it is sufficient to notice that the initial “T” woodcut at Ps 23:1 is framed by double lines (as only in the “He” variant), that the the small “s” in “shepheard” is not capitalized, that “cuppe” in 23:5 is not spelled “cup,” and that at the very bottom right of the front page (obverse) the word “Looke” is spelled with an “e” at the end (the “e” is retained in the 1611 “She” variant but dropped in later years). Compare this leaf with a “He” facsimile and see for yourself (see the 3 last pics from a 1611 “He” facsimile). See the notes below on the census distribution and distinction between the “He” and “She” variants of the 1611 edition.

FINE condition overall; full text and notes; margins (15″ x 10.25″) with partly shaved outer edges, ghost-shadows in places, light stain to upper margin, thin worm streak to inner margin, small ink blotch to lower edge (recto). See pics. With 5 WOODCUT initials, “V” inhabited. This, the most popular text in the Old Testament following Genesis 1, sings prayers empowered by faith/trust in God who, like a shepherd, tenderly cares for his people (esp. Ps 23 and 27); Israel’s kings, in turn, were supposed to act like caring shepherds rather than as worldly kings. The “shepherd” theme is carried into the New Testament (see esp. John 10:1-18 and 21:15-19) with Jesus Christ, the messiah and king of Israel, as the “good shepherd,” is God himself leading his People into the kingdom of God. COA on premium “gold leaf” paper w. signature and seal. Leaf and COA set in a museum-quality Archival Booklet. Includes Priority Shipping.

Most recently, a 1611 “She” variant of Ps 23 was listed for nearly $5,000. A “He” variant has sold in prior years for over $7,500. Apart from the text itself, the condition of the leaf is everything. Typically, 1611 “He” variants sell for as much as 3x the “She” variants. In the rarified air of super-premium “He” variants, the old adage is apt: buyer beware! This leaf, as with all other Items on this site, is guaranteed to be genuine as described. Priced to sell quickly.

Notes on the 1611 edition with “He” and “She” variants: The year 1611 produced two variant folio editions, distinguished by scholars as the earlier and rarer “He” variant and the later corrected “She” variant. The “He” variant was entirely printed and published in 1611, while the “She” variant was partly printed in 1611 as mistakes were noticed and published throughout the years 1611-1613. There are more than 400 differences between the two variants, mostly in spelling, spacing, and initial woodcuts, though some mistakes were corrected (as in Ruth 3:15 where it mistakenly says that “he went into the citie” whereas it should read “she went into the citie” — thus the entire first issue is called the “He” variant, versus the corrected “She” variant). Recent census of 1611 editions worldwide show about 175 “He” Bibles and 450 “She” Bibles are extant. All “He” variants display 1611 title pages, while “She” title pages are either 1611 or 1613. There early variants are all 59 lines per column. In 1613, however, a unique folio edition of 72 lines per column was published. All subsequent folio editions (1617, 1634, 1639/40) are 59 lines per column and were interchangeable among themselves. To complicate matters further, publishers continuously “corrected” the editions in spelling or woodcuts (the language was still in flux, and woodcuts quickly wore out), leading to so-called “reprints” among many leaves in all of the “She” variants. Some experts disagree whether the 1611 “He” and the “She” variants should count as a single edition with two variants, or as two distinct editions. Reference: Herbert 319. See David Norton’s “A Textual History of the King James Bible” (Cambridge, 2005) and Francis Fry’s masterful work on the various editions, issues, reprints, and woodcuts among the 5 editions (Orig. “A Description of the Great Bible . . .” London, 1865; reprinted by Vance Publications 2001). All 59-line folio leaves (1611 He, 1611 She, 1617, 1634, 1639/1640) are interchangeable, so buyer beware. Nonetheless, with the tools specified above and the tenacity of a researcher, each leaf can be determined with certainty.

Additional information

Bible / Date

King James / 1611




16.0" x 10.75"