Exquisite English Rebus Bible at Auction

By Rebecca Rego Barry

Amongst a collection of antique rifles, carved pipes, and Civil War imprints for sale tomorrow at Cowan’s Auctions in Cincinnati is this beautiful late eighteenth-century English rebus Bible. Titled The Hieroglyphick Bible, III Edition by its anonymous creator, the 8 x 12.75” copybook contains selected verses from the King James Bible, illustrated in rebus form, with small watercolors throughout. The auction house believes the illustrator to have been an English seaman–albeit one acquainted with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.

The book comes from the collection of E. Norman Flayderman, a collector and antique arms dealer who founded the militaria outfit, N. Flayderman & Co. According to Cowan’s, “Flayderman apparently acquired this while researching his book, Scrimshaw and Scrimshanders: Whales and Whalemen (New Milford, CT, 1972).” Files found with the rebus Bible indicate that it originally hailed from a New Bedford, Massachusetts, family.

This illustrated Bible is, as Cowan’s intimates in its catalogue, sea journal meets Nuremberg Chronicle. It is estimated to reach $15,000-25,000 at auction.

Images via Cowan’s Auctions

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