Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Massively "Grangerized" Bible Sold

A Devonshire rector's bible sold last week at auction for £47,000, reports the Church Times. What made this particular copy so expensive? Rev. Franke Parker had taken an 1800 edition of the Macklin Bible (normally bound in six or seven volumes, with a current price tag of around £600) and extra-illustrated it with more then 9,000 Old Master prints and engravings. By the time he was through, in 1883, he had the book bound in 63 volumes, each 20 inches tall (covering twenty feet of shelf space).

The bible had been in the possession of Henry Phillpotts, a Bishop of Exeter, whose library is being auctioned off (the Parker Bible was the first thing to go). The set attracted much attention from art collectors at the Dominic Winter auction house near Cirencester before the sale; it was purchased by an anonymous phone bidder.

Unfortunately, things here take a nasty turn. According to the auctioneer, the high bidder has "already extracted the prints and drawings he wanted", to the tune of some 300 illustrations. They now hope to sell the damaged set to "an American institution, which had expressed interest during the auction."

It's most unfortunate that the diocese did not attempt to find an institutional home for the bible where it could have remained intact as the unique oddity it is - to have it destroyed so recklessly is a great shame indeed. (That being said, I cannot condone the Rev. Parker's actions in creating such a montrosity, since he undoubtedly destroyed a good many books himself in the process).

7 comments:

jgodsey said...

there's a special circle in hell for that fella.

Martyn said...

I have recently put together, from writings by the Revd, Harold Tucker a past rector of the neighbouring parish of Tetcott, a short booklet outlining a little of the history of Revd. Franke Parker and the Parker bible. It is on a website at www.westsoft.org.co.uk. Following the recent controversy it might be of interest to readers. I note today's letters in the Times also referring to this Bible.

JBD said...

Martyn, I'd be very interested in seeing that booklet, but unfortunately the URL you provide doesn't work. Do you have the correct one?

Martyn said...

Sorry, I was in too much hurry. It is www.westsoft.org.uk. it is in the form of a pdf file and includes a few photographs I have recently taken. I have been trying to get hold of Rev. Tucker, who I know quite well to get a copy of the photo of Luffincott Rectory, but have been unable to do so. He is very elderly and may be ill or just away. I will keep on trying.

Martyn said...

Did you see some letters in the Times dated 11/9/2007? Very interesting referring to this subject.

JBD said...

Excellent, thanks! Unfortunately I've not been able to find the Times letters online, but will keep checking for them.

Martyn said...

Things are moving rapidly. Now a local paper The Cornish and Devon Post is reporting that the Truro Diocese is seeking legal advice on the situation.
I have copies of all the above but am concerned about the legality of putting it on a blog??
My email address is with the web page and if required I could email copies to you.