MU library adds $10K treasure to its collection

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A $10,000 Bible that includes gold accents and exotic German paper has been donated to the main library at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Alla Barabtarlo, head of special collections and rare books at Ellis Library, said she was awe struck when the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible arrived at the library in August. Donated by New York City businessman Bruce Kovner, the Bible is one of only 400 created by illustrator and designer Barry Moser of Hatfield, Mass., The Columbia Missourian reported.

Barabtarlo said each element of the 1996 book was crafted with purpose and accomplished sometimes through ancient techniques. The paper was unique and commissioned from a paper mill in Zerkall, a village of about 200 tucked away in Germany’s Eifel Hills.

“The binding is handmade of parchment, real parchment,” she said. “There’s no glue or modern technique. It was all made like it was done in the Middle Ages.”

Barabtarlo also praised Moser’s treatment of the illustrations and his sensitivity to the theology they represented. The books’ words are all rendered in black, save three words that are printed in red ink — “God,” “Christ” and the text’s last word, “amen.”

Moser said in an email that though the project lacked religious motivation, it didn’t lack challenge.

“When I first began designing and printing books, I discovered that, as a friend once put it, the history of printing can be walked on the spines of Bibles,” Moser said. “Thus I set my sights on this project around 1970 and spent the next 25 years getting ready to take it on.”

For now, the Bible is being kept in a climate-controlled room, but it’s expected to be moved downstairs by Christmas for a new exhibit, “Verba Sacra,” or sacred words in Latin. The exhibit will detail the history of the scriptures through the ages.

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