What do the Amerigo Vespucci‘s Book of Honour and the oldest Hebrew Bible have in common? Leather. The first tome was made by the Scriptorium Foroiuliense of Udine, which donated it to the Amerigo Vespucci training ship before its departure. At least one hundred leathers were used by the scribe who, around 900, wrote the 400 pages of parchment of the Codex Sassoon, the Hebrew Bible sold for USD 38.1 million at Sotheby’s.
The Book of Honour
“The leather used for the cover, which bears the gilded effigy of Amerigo Vespucci on the outside, and for the slipcase that accompanies the volume, is cowhide, with a very light dyeing,” Roberto Giurano, president of the Friuli-based foundation, tells La Conceria. “This Book of Honour consists of about 120 pages, in Atlantic format, and it took the Scriptorium students three months of work to finish it. The book will collect the signatures of the personalities who will board the Navy training ship during its two-year voyage around the world. It will be produced by the Opificium Librorum, a sort of medieval book workshop. For the Amerigo Vespucci, the same workshop is producing the menu, again with a leather cover. “We source the leather from companies and craftsmen in Friuli. Then, we finish it in-house. As well as we make the parchment from raw sheepskin internally,” Giurano explains.
The Hebrew Bible
Sotheby’s sold a 1,100-year-old Hebrew Bible for USD 38.1 million. This is an all-time record for a book or manuscript ever to appear at auction. It took just four minutes to reach the record figure. According to the New York Voice, it was American Friends of ANU – Museum of Jewish People in Tel Aviv who won the valuable volume, thanks to a donation from Alfred H. Moses, former American ambassador to Romania, and his family.
The extraordinary document, named Codex Sassoon after one of its past owners, surpassed the USD 30.8 million Bill Gates shelled out to secure Leonardo’s Leicester Codex in 1994. The Codex is not the oldest biblical text ever found, but it is the oldest to have been almost completely preserved. It was written around mid-900 AD, probably in Syria or Palestine. The entire work required countless hours of effort and the use of at least a hundred leathers.
Left, the Vespucci’s Book of Honour, right the Codex Sassoon