Anglo-American Press Gleanings

Rare 15th Century Bible Stolen in Lanark

Valerie Offord,
March 2002.

A rare 15th-century Bible, believed to be worth about 800,000, has vanished from a council safe. It was gifted to the people of Lanark in 1910 and was thought to be secure but it has now emerged that it has been missing for at least eight years.

In the early 1990s it was kept in a safe in the treasury office of the former Clydesdale District Council, now South Lanarkshire Council. But records show that by the time of local government reorganization in 1996 the book had disappeared from the council inventory. Since then all attempts to trace it, including a police investigation, have failed. Now Lanark Community Council is demanding an inquiry and is asking for assurances that other valuable artifacts are safe.

Leslie Reid, community councillor, said: “The book is extremely valuable. It belongs to the early ages of printing and is undoubtedly one of the town’s treasures. We want the council to find it, but they don’t seem to care. Our worst fear is that it has been sold somewhere in the world and is sitting in a private collection.”

The missing book, written in Latin, was thought originally to be a rare Carbusier Bible, printed in 1477 by Bernhard Richel of Basle in Switzerland, and one of only 27 in the world. But it is now thought that it is an equally rare Koberg Bible, printed at Nuremberg in 1478. It was part of a large book collection given to Lanark in 1910 by William Hunter Selkirk, a local businessman who made his money in coal. Much of the collection was sold by the council the following year, but the Bible was among a handful of rare books kept in the town library until it was moved to the treasury safe.

Margaret Hodge, community council vice-chairman, has written to the council seeking an explanation. “We know it was last seen in 1994 when it was still in council offices in Lanark. But from there we have no idea what happened to it,” she said.

Newspaper Sources

English, Shirley Bible vanishes from Council Safe The Times 6 February 2002.
Kelbie, Paul Report in the Independent 7 February 2002.

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