Verbum Sempiternum and Salvator Mundi, one of the earliest Thumb Bibles in an embroidered cover, sold for £22,000 at Forum Auctions in June 2020.

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Printed in 1616 was Verbum Sempiternum and Salvator Mundi comprising the Old and New Testaments in verse by John Taylor (1578-1653), The Water Poet. A copy sold for £22,000 at Forum Auctions in June 2020 was one of only a few surviving. Key to its mighty price was the charming 17th century embroidered binding measuring just 4cm high.

English pioneer Several hundred different Thumb Bibles were printed in subsequent centuries.

Biblia, or a Practical Summary of ye Old & New Testaments was issued by the London printer and bookseller Richard Wilkin in 1728. The first English Thumb Bible in prose (all earlier editions having been in verse), it was very popular with children, the intended audience.

As in most copies of the Biblia, the example offered by Bromer Booksellers contains Wilkin’s handwritten ‘8’ over the publication date of 1727 on the main title page and again on an interior title page.

A copy in a binding of black morocco with ornate gilt floral motifs, it is priced at $4500.

At just under 2in (5cm), Kern der Kerkelyke Historie was one of the smallest Bibles of the 18th century dealing with ecclesiastical history.

Printed in Holland, the two volumes feature 36 engraved plates including a folding plate depicting the Synod of Dort. A copy, the first volume in 19th century leather with a silver clasp, the second in contemporary vellum, is priced at Firsts at £3200 by Antiquariaat De Roo.

The possibilities of micro printing have been tested repeatedly in the 20th century. In 1952, the Munich publisher Waldmann & Pfitzner produced a 5mm book containing versions of the Lord’s Prayer in Dutch, English, French, German,
Spanish and Swedish. An example from the 1960 edition bound in gilt
morocco leather, is priced at £200 by Justin Croft Antiquarian Books.


The Lord’s Prayer in six languages by Waldmann & Pfitzner, £200 from Justin Croft Antiquarian Books