The Hexham Abbey Bible. A unique 1629 King James “Authorized Bible,” Cambridge University Press FIRST EDITION published by Tho[mas] and John Buck, Cambridge, Med. Folio, 1629. Reference: Herbert 424 (lacks OT). SUPERIOR+ condition. This deliberately constructed Prayer Book/Bible contains the Book of Common Prayer, New Testament, and Whole Book of Psalms in English Meter (all titles d. 1629; all parts complete). A UNIQUE volume: Bound and interleaved in NT are 115 mostly 16th century engravings (106 full-sized; 18 half-sized, two to a page); most engravings are dated to 1565-1585 but a few are dated to 1639-1643.
This is the earliest known English Bible with engravings (other than simple portraits), and the only known English Bible with 16th Century engravings. Detailed prospectus and Complete List of Engravings available on request.
Established provenance: compiled and interleaved by Rev. Dr. George Ritschel, Sr. in 1661 at Hexham Abbey, Northumberland, UK. Ownership was passed down through a series of Rectors and Lecturers at Hexham Abbey, the last known being Rev. Robert Clarke c.1840 (bookplate). The Hexham Abbey Bible was likely designed as a gift to Bishop Cosin, exemplifying the word-picture didactic theory of Ritschel’s academic mentor, Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670). The proposed gift was likely to secure Dr. Ritschel’s job as rector of Hexham Abbey. But with the publication of the new BCP in January 1662 this Prayer Book Bible, now obsolete, was “shelved” in 1662, being unused until its re-discovery in 2012 by Dr. Bruce T. Martin. The Hexham Abbey Bible is among the very first efforts to put pictures in English Bibles, such things having become legal in England only in 1660. For details, see the several BLOGS on this site’s HomePage. See also Dr Martin’s Exhibit essay: “Holy Beauty or Unholy Marriage?”
The Hexham Abbey Bible‘s pages are in pristine condition, without marks or tears or folds, though the fine linen-rag paper (McMullin’s forme E, an exceptionally fine paper) is ageing. Gilted and gauffered edges adorned with diamond patterns and other symbols, done after the rebinding with all the engravings bound in. Tightly bound in plain brown leather covered boards c.1790 (per the conservator; see her notes and authenticating paperwork), with five raised bands and gilt lettering to spine. Engravings are of the same paper type and size as the Bible, albeit with light to moderate handling due to their greater age. A few engravings are cropped at the top to fit the page size of the Bible; scattered minor edge-cut repairs.
All engravings are Old Masters in the Northern Renaissance or Netherlandish style. Artists include: G. Groenning, J. Sadeler, Marmen Muller, H. Goltzius, J. Wierix, M. de Vos, G. de Jode, J. Stradanus, M. van Heemskerck, P. Galle, P. Furnius, H. Collaert. Ask for the complete list. Many engravings are FIRST STATE, and some are quite rare (est. value of engravings alone: $40k-$50k).
After six years of scholarly research the Hexham Abbey Bible was first exhibited to the public in early 2018 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, in Salem, OR (USA), under curator and world-renowned scholar Dr. Ricardo De Mambro Santos (expert in the engravings), under the exhibit title “Holy Beauty: Northern Renaissance Engravings Discovered in an Early English Bible.” The great importance of the Hexham Abbey Bible is that, to our knowledge, it is the earliest known English Bible to contain bound-in picture-engravings (rather than portraits), and the only known English Bible to contain 16th century engravings of any kind [there are a few Bibles c.1660 that contain bound-in 17th century engravings].
The 1629 Cambridge folio edition is said to be the most beautiful English Bible printed to that date. On the cusp of the Enlightenment the Hexham Abbey Bible represents the best of Western Civilization in its single-volume combination of Art and History that has shaped the modern world. There is simply no equal among early English Bibles.
Bible sets in a hand-made, clamshell archival box. Dark green buckrum cloth, over boards, with gold-gilted lettering on the spine.
Call for payment options over time. Consideration will be given to institutions that can exhibit this Bible for public display and for scholarly research. Bible may be hand-delivered to locations within the USA, Canada, UK, and Europe. Other locations may require Buyer pickup.