Rare Finds

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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1 Comment

  • Cool Hieroglyphic Bible

    In order to make our Hieroglyphic Bible I had to purchase two originals. I probably still need to purchase one more. There were at least three or four pages that don’t look the best. While I was looking for our originals, I saw a few that had been hand colored by the owners, much like this one. I have not seen this one before. This one looks like it was done by hand instead of printed. I really like it. My hat is off to the creator of this one.

    Maybe someone will get inspired to make their own by hand. If so, they could use our replica as a guide for their text and use this one and ours for their images?

    All of our images can be seen on our web page that the following link:


    If you would like to purchase one of our Hieroglyphick Bible replicas, please visit our Etsy page at the following link:


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