New York: American Bible Society, 1855.
About the item
Royal 8vo. Sophia Augusta Brown's Bible, Wife of John Carter Brown. Bound in full contemporary morocco, a.e.g. With "S. Augusta Brown" (1825-1909) stamped in gilt on the upper cover. With two examples of embroidered Berlin wool work laid in, one with initals "SAB Oct. 29, 1859" and the other an alter scene.
The bible of Sophia Augusta Brown (1825-1909), wife of John Carter Brown, herself an active bibliophile who helped her husband build his library and oversaw its stewardship after his death. Sophia Augusta was 34 and John Carter Brown 61 when they married, after a brief courtship, on June 23, 1859. That event is recorded in the family record between the Old and New Testaments, as are the births and marriages of the couple's three children––John Nicholas Brown, Harold Brown, and Sophia Augusta––the marriages of the two sons, and the death of John Carter Brown "dearly loved Husband & Father" on June 10, 1874. The younger Sophia Augusta Brown married banker and businessman William Watts Sherman (1842-1912), whose Newport, RI house is an architectural landmark.
The daughter of Patrick Browne, an Anglo-Irish jurist and member of Her Majesty's Council of the Bahamas, and Harriet Thayer of Providence, a direct descendant of Roger Williams, Sophia Augusta Brown was "an indomitable force in an era when women were discovering a role for themselves in the charitable sector ... For Sophia Augusta, perpetuating her husband's mission through the sound management and enhancement of his collection was her way of contributing to the advancement of knowledge and understanding among peoples ... From her sons' earliest age, Sophia Augusta ensured they would develop an appreciation for the care, condition and housing of books ... John Nicholas and Harold often accompanied their mother to booksellers and private collectors. At an early age, they were shown priceless works: a Columbus letter, the papers of Leonardo daVinci, a note by Galileo ... On his trips to Europe [as an adult], John Nicholas was expected to report back ... with his assessment of the books he encountered ... When he turned 22, in 1883, Sophia Augusta entrusted him with the care of the library" (Sylvia Brown, Grappling with Legacy: Rhode Island's Brown Family and the American Philanthropic Impulse, 2017). While her husband was still alive, Sophia Augusta oversaw the construction, in 1862, of the fireproof library wing in the Nightingale-Brown House which remained the site of the library until it was relocated to its current home at Brown University, at the impetus of John Nicholas Brown's will.