Unique King James Bible sells for $15,000 at Bonhams

A unique edition of the King James Bible has sold within estimate at Bonhams' Fine Books and Manuscripts auction in San Francisco.

The sale, which was held on October 10, saw the extraordinary work sell for $15,000, comfortably meeting its $12,000-18,000 valuation.

King James Bible
The title page of the magnificent first-edition volume

The book is a third folio edition of the King James Bible, which was the third official translation of the Bible into English. First folios were first published by the Church of England in 1611, with the example at auction appearing in 1613. It is unique in its "mystical" John Beer fore-edge painting.

A fore-edge work is one that is painted onto the edges of a book's pages, so that it may only be seen when the book is closed. John T Beer, a renowned bibliophile, is regarded as one of the finest fore-edge artists in history, as well as the only 19th century fore-edge artist who is known by name.

The painting on the current example depicts two scenes from the Bible: Caleb's daughter pleading for a watered land and Christ at the Well of Sychar. The copy is also extra-illustrated with 43 engravings by Beilby and Bewick, which originate from Osterwald's Bible.

The book was once in the collection of another renowned bibliophile, Alfred Sutro. Sutro was president of the Book Club of California in the early 20th century and commissioned a pamphlet to celebrate this brilliant edition of the King James Bible in 1938.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a stunning collection of rare books and manuscripts, which is highlighted by Henry VIII's personal divorce plea - a document which would change the face of the church forever.

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