At the Conference

The booth next to ours at the Desiring God Conference was occupied by a media company. On tables, they set out about 15 very old, very rare Bibles and other books. Most incredible of all, they were allowing people to touch them and turn the pages. When asked, they explained that the vellum paper they were printed on was very durable — and it seemed to be. But also that they collected them to educate people, not for their value.

We talked quite a bit with the men in the booth during the slow times and got to inspect the Bibles closely and pick them up.

They had one page — Acts 7 and 8 — from a 1450 Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed with movable type. It was bound into a book with a title page and a short history. I found this on the Internet: In 1921 a New York rare book dealer, Gabriel Wells, bought a damaged paper copy, dismantled the book and sold sections and individual leaves to book collectors and libraries. The leaves were sold in a portfolio case with an essay written by A. Edward Newton, and were referred to as “Noble Fragments.”

Here’s Brannon Marshall holding it.

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Here I am reading an authentic, complete copy of Tyndale’s New Testament, the first Bible in English to be translated from the Greek texts. It was printed sometime in the 1530s. The large book behind me is a complete King James Bible from 1613 with the original wood cover.

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We had a prize drawing in our booth, and on the form we asked people to sketch a picture of themselves. As Brannon was sorting through the forms, he saw that somebody had drawn Fred Flintstone’s face. He pointed it out to me, and one of the guys working in the next booth said he’d done it. His name is Michael Bannon and he’s now a pastor in Naples, Florida. I asked him some questions and soon discovered that he used to draw The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo for Hanna Barbera.

He readily agreed to draw a picture of Fred in the Red Chair while sitting in the Red Chair.

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I’m not sure if this is still the case, but at one point this was the smallest book printed using engraved plates. It contains the Lord’s Prayer in seven languages and is only legible with a magnifying glass.

I’m not sure which language Ian Philpot is reading here, but neither was he.

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Here’s the book lying on the seat of the chair.

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A few centuries back, it was a tradition to buy mourning rings, engrave them with your name and, perhaps, line them with a strand or two of your hair, then leave them to your closest friends in your will.

This is the ring of John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace,” who died in 1807. I don’t believe this once has any hair in it.

I asked if I could take a photo of it on the chair and was told “sure.”

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