The University of Manitoba Library announced December 21 that a King James Bible in its rare-book collection is actually a first edition, one of only 50 believed to be extant. Printed in England in 1611, it contains a card stating that King James I of England used this specific copy. The claim has yet to be verified.
“This is a nice Christmas present for us, to hear that we have such a very special item in our collection,” Head of Archives and Special Collections Shelley Sweeney stated. Sweeney and English scholar Paul Dyck of the Canadian Mennonite University determined the provenance of the rare book based on clues such as stylistic irregularities that are consistent with the 1611 printing.
The bible was given to St. John’s College in 1897 by Rev. Daniel Greatorex as part of a collection of religious texts. St. John’s College was one of the founding colleges of the university. The leather-and-oak–bound edition features ornamental wood-cut borders, and engraved title pages. Other original first-edition King James Bibles have sold for more than $400,000 at auction, but scholars believe this particular copy may be more valuable because it also contains a genealogy of Jesus.