The $14 Million Book
The British Library in London has just paid about $14 million to purchase Europe’s oldest intact book, known as the St. Cuthbert Gospel. It’s a copy of the Gospel of St. John, thought to have been produced in northeastern England sometime during the seventh century.
“It is the earliest intact European book. So its pages, and the stitching that holds them together, and the covers that protect the pages are intact, as it was made at the end of the seventh century,” Claire Breay, the curator of medieval and early modern manuscripts at the British Library, tells NPR. “So it’s really the starting point of our evidence for the history of the Western book.”
In a bit of necrobiblia, the gospel was buried with the medieval missionary St. Cuthbert and then exhumed from his coffin a few hundred years later.
Click through to hear the full story about the book’s remarkable journey on Morning Edition.