Tyndale Bible is eye-opener at Chiswick Auctions

Dated 1536 and printed in Antwerp, a defective copy of what is known as the ‘mole’ edition of Tyndale’s New Testament – so called from the mole (or perhaps hedgehog) depicted on a stone on which St Paul’s foot is resting in one of the many woodcut illustrations – made £30,000 in a recent London sale.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Ian McKay

Spread from a defective copy of what is known as the ‘mole’ edition of Tyndale’s New Testament dated 1536 sold for £30,000 at Chiswick Auctions.

One of the highlights of a November 28 sale held by Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium), this ‘Once agyane Corrected’ edition in a rebacked 17th century binding of mottled calf lacked 48 leaves in all, was somewhat stained and browned and bore a few small library stamps (a spread is shown above).

Tyndale’s enormously influential, vernacular translation, based mainly on Erasmus’ edition of the Greek text, was first published in 1525 in Worms.

It was condemned by Cardinal Wolsey and the clerical establishment and a great many copies of Tyndale’s translation were destroyed. Tyndale himself had the previous year been seized and imprisoned at the castle of Vilvoorde, near Brussels.

Strangled and burned at the stake, he is said to have cried out “Lord! Open the King of England’s Eyes,” and within two years Henry VIII had indeed authorised a translation that became the Great Bible of 1539-40.

Both that version and the King James Bible of 1611 drew heavily on Tyndale’s earlier translations.

In 2011, at Sotheby’s, a copy of this ‘mole’ edition that had suffered far fewer losses – just four preliminaries and two leaves of text, all supplied in facsimile – sold for £75,000.