Vellum Vulgate Bible 1

Vellum Vulgate Bible 1
Alternative Title
Vulgate Bible #1
Vellum Bible
The Vulgate Bible was a translation of the Old Latin and Hebrew text of the Bible into Latin during the 4th century by St. Jerome. It was the first translation of the Old Testament into Latin directly from the Hebrew Tanakh.

This Bible is an excellent example of calligraphy in Western Europe's Middle Age. Monks living in monasteries were given the hefty task of copying the Bible by hand in order to provide it to more people. Books such as this were an expensive undertaking, so it was usually only the rich upper class who would own a Bible. This Bible boasts meticulous, handwritten characters in simplified Latin with occasional illuminations in blue and red. The edges of the books pages have been embellished with gold.

The process for making vellum (pages made of animal hide) was arduous and expensive. It took one hide from a single animal to create a few pages depending on the size of the hide. Any fur, hair, or wool had to be scraped off from the hide after which it had to be stretched. Baths in water and other chemicals would help the hide to become more pliable. Eventually the hide would be scraped of excess matter until it reached the desired thinness. Sometimes during the stretching and scraping process, holes would appear in the hide. Since a single page was too expensive to throw away, monks would write around the holes as can be seen on some pages in this Bible (proving it to be an actual "holey" Bible).
Date Created
1260 AD
Geographical Coverage
Temporal Coverage
Late Middle Ages
13th Century
Original Book
Collecting Areas
History of Writing Collection
Simplified Latin
The letter in the front of the book was written by an unknown bookseller from Manchester, England to the Bishop of Chester, possibly Bowyer Edward Sparke who served in that role from 1810 to 1812 ("List of the Bishops of Chester"). The letter describes this Vellum Bible as a gift from the bookseller to the Bishop as a token of remorse - the Bishop had visited his store while he was absent. It also stands as a gift of admiration for the Bishop's dedication to Christian doctrine.

As mentioned in the letter, the bookseller's shop was located in the Manchester Exchange building in Manchester which, at the time, was in its second state of design (it was redesigned a third time between 1869 and 1874) (“Royal Exchange Building”).

The transcription of the letter follows. Words in brackets indicate inferred words. Question marks indicate illegible words:

“[?] Revd. the
“Lord Bishop of Chester”

“My Lord
“I regret extremely that I was absent at
“the time that you did me the honor to visit
“my Book establishment in [your Exchange building]
“As I could have [painted out] many objects par-
“ticularly deserving of your Lordships attention.”

“My absence was occasioned by my being
“present (and which I ingenuously confess I do not
“regret) to [your] Lordship’s excellent address
“to the Clergy (in [this] part) of your Diocese and
“which I most sincerely wish the whole town [&]
“[? ?], (if it had been possible) as well as
“myself: as they must have been strongly impressed with
“the most favorable sentiments of [your] Lordships
“eminent abilities & zeal to fill the distinguished

“situation to which you have been called and must
“also have left with a more firm belief in the truths &
“excellence of that Religion which you so admirably
“[?] Defended. Allow me therefore my
“Lord, to offer my humble tribute of [acknowledgment]
“and to request your favorable acceptance of the
“precious volume which accompanies this and
“permit me, with the utmost sincerity, to assure your
“Lordship, that in no way could I have [?]
“of it with so much [real & permanent] satisfaction,
“as by having [?] it in the hands of one,
“so fully able to appreciate its worth in
“every point of view. I am my Lord,
“with the greatest respect, [your] Lordship’s
“most [?] [?] [Son]
“Exchange Building July 5. 1811”
* * *
“List of the Bishops of Chester.” CCEd. Accessed November 5, 2020.

“Royal Exchange Building.” Manchester View. Accessed November 5, 2020.
Bibliographic Citation
Vulgate Bible on Vellum. France: ca. 1260.

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