Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Recipient of Quite a Nice Gift!

My hometown library was given a very nice gift. One of the former Vice Presidents of Hormel Foods donated a copy of the Heritage Edition of the Saint John's Bible. It is a fine art copy of the original Saint John's Bible. Only 299 copies were printed. The library has copy number 67.

In 1998, Saint John's Abbey and University (Collegeville, Minnesota) commissioned world-renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to make a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible. As artistic director of a team of artists in Wales and a team of scholars in central Minnesota, Jackson spent more than a decade (2000-2011) completing a magnificent seven-volume Bible. Inspired by medieval scripts, Jackson designed an alphabet for this edition, and the illuminations (160 spread over 1,150 pages) combined traditional themes with the demands of contemporary aesthetics. The Bible was made using traditional materials such as vellum (calfskin), ancient inks, gold and silver leaf and platinum, and was written with quill pens fashioned from goose, turkey and swan feathers. I was fortunate to view several of the pages about five or six years ago when they were on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I was so moved, I bought the DVD that details the making of the Bible.  The Heritage Edition is a faithful reproduction of the original manuscript of the Saint John's Bible. The finest printers and binders have been engaged to make sure that the highest standards were applied to every step of the process, including paper, imaging, printing, and binding - the binding is a gorgeous red leather.

Not only was the special Bible donated to the library — eight volumes in all — but a beautiful wooden case built by one of the monks at the Abbey. The Bible is valued at $145,000; the case is valued at $20,000. One of the volumes is displayed open at the top of the glass covered case. Each day, a library employee turns one page of it, allowing the viewers to see more of the volume. Once a week — normally on Wednesday afternoons — the case is opened and a volume is placed on a table, covered with a white table cloth, allowing patrons to look at the pages. While the original was ascribed on Vellum, the Heritage Edition was printed on cotton paper, which is user-friendly and has a life expectancy of anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years. I noticed the library also has beautiful books on a shelf near the display that go into more detail on the making of the Bible. I hope to spend more time there someday to check out all of this display. It is absolutely wonderful!

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