Rare Bible at Bridgewater College nominated for statewide preservation program

bridgewaterThe Venice Bible—which was printed in Italy in 1482-83 and now reposes in the Reuel B. Pritchett Museum Collection at Bridgewater College— has been announced as a nominee in the Virginia Association of Museums’ Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program.

The program is designed to build awareness of artifacts that sometimes need constant daily care and of the important work that museums do to maintain their collections. The “Top 10” honorees are selected by an independent review panel of collections and conservation experts from the Library of Virginia, Preservation Virginia, Virginia Conservation Association, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and an independent conservator.

The People’s Choice Award goes to the artifact that collects the most votes during the public voting component of the campaign.

The Venice Bible, which is also known as the Biblia Latina cum postillis Nicolai de Lyra, 1482-1483, was donated to Bridgewater in 1954 by the Rev. Reuel B. Pritchett. It is listed on several important lists of incunabula—the first printed books—and is printed in Latin. The 2,715-page volume contains some untranslated, handwritten annotations, and features some capital letters illuminated with gold leaf. Some pages feature decorative flourishes. It is bound in vellum.

Stephanie Gardner, special collections librarian at the college’s Alexander Mack Memorial Library, said the Bible needs basic cleaning and conservation as well as re-housing to a more suitable environment.

“It is an honor to participate in the program, and to share with the college and local communities some of the curatorial work that we do with special collections, including the Venice Bible,” said Gardner. “The Bible was housed in a special showcase for many years. We discovered, recently, that while beautiful, the housing was not providing proper preservation for this important artifact.”

“I hope,” she continued, “that everyone will vote for the Venice Bible as their favorite artifact, and consider donating to its preservation and conservation.”

Public voting for favorite artifacts will determine who receives the People’s Choice Award. Voting runs from Aug. 1 to Aug. 23 and may be done at www.vatop10artifacts.org.

“It’s a special privilege to be a steward of this rare part of history,” said Andrew Pearson, director of the Mack Library. “I encourage all of Bridgewater’s friends and alumni to help vote this to the People’s Choice Award as part of this honor and encourage donations to support its preservation.”

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to approximately 1,800 undergraduate students.



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