The Solid Gold Bible

Printed in 1836, one of the rarest Bibles in the world.

The Solid Gold Bible


* Printed in 1836 by Thomas De La Rue, London, England
* Only 25 gold ink bibles were printed
* One of the rarest Bibles in the world today
* Page in collection is from book of Acts
* Frank DeFreitas reads from the collection leaf


By FRANK DEFREITAS for WONDERS OF THE BIBLE
PUBLISHED: September 29, 2020 | UPDATED: September 29, 2020

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The Solid Gold Bible



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The Solid Gold Bible


Here I am holding a page from the De La Rue solid gold ink new testament ... one of the rarest bibles in the world.
Here I am (Frank DeFreitas) holding a page from the De La Rue solid gold ink new testament ... one of the rarest bibles in the world.

Is the famous Gutenberg Bible really the rarest Bible in the world? Today we’ll look at a Bible that will make you say “not so fast”. Hello, my name is Frank DeFreitas, and I would like to welcome you to Wonders of the Bible.

Type “What is the rarest Bible in the world?” into Google search, and notice how many returns come back referencing the Gutenberg Bible. While it is true that there are only 49 copies of the Gutenberg that have survived until today, the original printing was for 180 copies.

Of the 49 that still exist, they are -- for the most part -- in library, university and museum collections. Keep in mind that less than half of the 49 copies are complete, with many consisting of just a few scattered pages.

Now lets take a look at our Wonders of the Bible selection for today: Referred to as the De La Rue New Testament, and with a print run of only 25 copies, it is truly one of the rarest Bibles in the world … yesterday OR today. Add the fact that this Bible was printed in pure gold, and you have one of the most unique Bibles in the world today as well!

In 1831, Thomas De La Rue developed a method of printing which used 24 karat solid gold ink. Why 24k, and not 14k or 18k? Well, as any gold collector will tell you, due to its purity, 24k gold does not tarnish.

24k gold is 99.9%, or even better 99.999%, pure gold. There remains pure gold from thousands of years ago that looks exactly the same as it did back then. Truly amazing.

Here’s an interesting additional bit of information: Due to the 24k gold ink, each page weighs an astonishing 2.2 grams. AND, the entire book weighs in at 5 kilograms, or 11 pounds!

Page printed in solid gold ink telling of Paul and the altar of the unknown god
Thomas De La Rue new testament page printed in solid gold ink telling of Paul and the altar of the unknown god.

Is the famous Gutenberg Bible really the rarest Bible in the world? Today we’ll look at a Bible that will make you say “not so fast”. Hello, my name is Frank DeFreitas, and I would like to welcome you to Wonders of the Bible.

I do not know if the De La Rue Bible has other metals mixed in with the 24k gold flakes or not, so I put it under a microscope and took a few photos. I would have to refer to someone who is more familiar with the examination of gold to determine if other metals are present in the mix or not. Look for the photomicrographs of this amazing Bible here on the podcast web page at wondersofthebible.org

The ultimate result of this new technology was the Bible that you are looking at here at the Wonders of the Bible web site: the De La Rue New Testament of 1834.

Previously, 24k gold was used for gold initial capital letters, and other illumination flourishes, within both manuscripts and bibles. Many manuscript pages are sold as works of art due to these fanciful additions. With the de la rue New Testament, the gold lettering is printed on a modified printing press, NOT painted as with a brush by hand.

Detail of gold ink printed on the bible page.
Very high-contrast detail of gold ink printed on the bible page.

I realized immediately that this particular BIble page would make a very interesting subject for laser experimentation. So I plan, on a future installment, to illuminate this page with three primary laser wavelengths: 633nanometers, 532 nanometers, and 412 nanometers; along with making a hologram copy of the page.

Normally, a holographic copy of a printed page would remain 2D, since the page surface itself is -- for all purposes -- flat. But there are two reasons that this page would be of interest: (1) the ink itself contains 3-dimensional flecks of pure 24-karat gold; and (2) as such, the gold reflects light at specific angles. This action should be captured in the hologram of the page as well.

So stay tuned for the investigative installments.

24k solid gold ink shown under the laboratory microscope.
Here is a photomicrograph showing the 24k solid gold ink under a laboratory microscope. In a future installment, we'll be making a 3-D hologram of the printing, since the flakes of gold are 3-D. We'll also view the gold ink under several laser wavelengths. Look for this installment in 2021 (Lord willing, of course).

Let’s move on to the content of the Page:

The scripture section that is on the Bible page that I now have is from the Book of ACTS chapter 17 verse 14 through chapter 18 verse 26. This contains the famous reference and story of Paul at the Greek altar of their Unknown God.

I would like to take a moment to read a selection from the De La Rue Gold New Testament:

*** Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

Paul preaching at Athens with the altar of the unknown god in the distance.
Paul preaching at Athens with the altar of the unknown god in the distance. The solid gold ink bible page in the Wonders of the Bible collection contains Acts 17, where Paul speaks of the One God that is Creator of all the universe.

Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

24k solid gold ink sparkles as seen through a laboratory microscope. Greatly magnified to show detail of individual gold flakes.
24k solid gold ink sparkles as seen through a laboratory microscope. Greatly magnified to show detail of individual gold flakes. As one rotates the page, or moves the light, different flakes give reflection, depending on the incident angle of illumination (angle of incidence equals angle of reflection). This action should be preserved in any laser holographic recording.

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

So Paul departed from among them.

Many of my listeners will notice in the photos that the Bible page appears to be split into an upper section and a lower section. That is because the upper section contains the Biblical Scripture reading, and the lower section contains commentary from the famous Matthew Henry commentary series.

Matthew Henry was born in 1662 and died in 1714. His life-long reputation rests almost entirely on his commentary. Charles Spurgeon once said that “Every minister ought to read it entirely and carefully through once at least.” Henry lived only long enough to finish his commentary up until the book of Acts, which is the book that the page in the collection is from.

I would like to read a few short random selection of Matthew Henry’s commentary concerning the content of the page in the collection, and particularly the previous scripture which I have read earlier. It is of interest to me because I am a creationist, and Paul is referring to God as Creator of the universe. As follows from a 1721 edition of Matthew Henry’s commentary:

1. He is the God that made the world, and all things therein the Father almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth. This was admitted by many of the philosophers but those of Aristotle's school denied it, and maintained QUOTE "that the world was from eternity, and every thing always was from eternity, and every thing always was what now it is." UNQUOTE Those of the school of Epicurus fancied QUOTE "that the world was made by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, which, having been in perpetual motion, at length accidently jumped into this frame." UNQUOTE Against both these Paul here maintains that God by the operations of an infinite power, according to the contrivance of an infinite wisdom, in the beginning of time made the world and all things therein, the origin of which was owing, not as they fancied to an eternal matter, but to an eternal mind.

2. He is therefore Lord of heaven and earth, that is, he is the rightful owner, proprietor, and possessor, of all the beings, powers, and riches of the upper and lower world, material and immaterial, visible and invisible. This follows from his making heaven and earth. If he created all, without doubt he has the disposing of all: and, where he gives being, he has an indisputable right to give law.

The De La Rue 24k gold ink new testament can be viewed at any Wonders of the Bible exhibit.
The De La Rue 24k gold ink new testament can be viewed at any Wonders of the Bible exhibit. Contact Frank or Deb to book your own upcoming presentation today.

3. That in him we live, and move, and have our being, Acts 17:28. We have a necessary and constant dependence upon his providence, as the streams have upon the spring, and the beams upon the sun. (1.) In him we live that is, the continuance of our lives is owing to him and the constant influence of his providence he is our life, and the length of our days. It is not only owing to his patience and pity that our forfeited lives are not cut off, but it is owing to his power, and goodness, and fatherly care, that our frail lives are prolonged. There needs not a positive act of his wrath to destroy us if he suspend the positive acts of his goodness, we die of ourselves. (2.) In him we move it is by the uninterrupted concourse of his providence that our souls move in their outgoings and operations, that our thoughts run to and fro about a thousand subjects, and our affections run out towards their proper objects. It is likewise by him that our souls move our bodies we cannot stir a hand, or foot, or a tongue, but by him, who, as he is the first cause, so he is the first mover. (3.) In him we have our being not only from him we had it at first, but in him we have it still to his continued care and goodness we owe it, not only that we have a being and are not sunk into nonentity, but that we have our being, have this being, were and still are of such a noble rank of beings, capable of knowing and enjoying God and are not thrust into the meanness of brutes, nor the misery of devils.

Once again, my name is Frank DeFreitas, and may God Bless you Today and Every Day, AND, Remember, to always love others, just as Jesus Christ loves you.

Resources:


Here is an online essay on the history of printing in gold: http://www3.slv.vic.gov.au/latrobejournal/issue/latrobe-67/t1-g-t7.html

I obtained the De La Rue gold bible page that is in the Wonders of the Bible collection from the Museum of the Book in London, England. If you are interested in obtaining one of your own, contact them and I am sure they will help you: https://www.museumofthebook.com


"Science is the study of the physical manifestations of God in action."
-- Frank DeFreitas (Click Here for BIO)
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