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Rare Bibles: Harper's Illuminated Bible (1846)

The Styberg Library has a special collection of rare Bibles. This guide features some of the ones that are within the collection.


Harper’s Illuminated Bible was first published in 1846. This Bible is unique and beautiful in many ways. The floriated initials are each unique and quite elaborate. For example, the letter A has over 353 different engravings. Throughout the book there are 185 large illustrations, and there are over 1,400 wood engravings done by John Chapman, whose art is featured in the rotunda of the capitol building in Washington, D.C. As might be expected, this Bible was quite expensive to produce, so the publishers had to print it in fifty-four monthly installments. There are only one hundred complete sets known. This Bible was not an original part of the Paul Keen collection; rather, our copy was donated in 2004 by Robert C. Grigereit, an alumnus of Evangelical Theological Seminary and a United Methodist pastor, whose family treasured this Bible for many years.