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).