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Eight-pound Bible specially hand-bound for King Charles’ coronation

How does a publisher prepare an almost unique, eight-pound Bible for a coronation?

According to Tom Perridge of Oxford University Press, which created the special item for Saturday’s service at Westminster Abbey, one does it relatively quickly and very carefully.

The special edition Bible, of which only 12 copies were produced, is the fifth such volume the centuries-old publishing house has produced for such an occasion. OUP, as the firm is also known, created coronation Bibles for Britain’s four previous crowned monarchs, dating back to the start of the 20th century — King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby commissioned the Bible, on which King Charles III will place his hand while taking the Coronation Oath, continuing a process begun in 1689 with the joint coronation of William III and Mary II.

“The Bible which will be presented to His Majesty The King is a reminder that Scripture is not just at the heart of the responsibilities he undertakes at the Coronation, but at the heart of Christian life. On this momentous occasion, the Bible will be the first and most important gift offered to The King,” Archbishop Welby said in a statement.

The 2023 Coronation Bible contains a reproduction of the typeset text of the 1611 Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Bible after the first monarch to commission a translation of the Bible into English. That reproduction was first made for a 2010 commemorative edition.

Mr. Perridge’s team added additional pages “at the front and the back, just sort of making clear that this was the coronation edition,” he said in a video interview.

Design was “the number one criteria for a coronation Bible,” he said. That meant using the kind of paper often found in journals and artists’ notebooks, he said, and paying special attention to the cover and binding.

Bound in burgundy leather, the front cover features the royal family’s coat of arms and a design of flowers in bloom both embossed in gold. The new king’s cypher, CIIIR, appears on the raised spine of the Bible, also gold-embossed. The volume is hand-bound by London bookbinders Shepherds, Sangorski & Sutcliffe.

A total of 12 copies of the Bible were prepared. One will be held by Lambeth Palace, where Archbishop Welby has his office, and another will go to the king. A third will end up in Westminster Abbey’s archives, with the fourth and fifth copies going to OUP’s headquarters and the firm’s New York office for display.

The remaining seven will be sent to various copyright offices to be registered, including the Library of Congress in Washington. But those will be machine-bound, Mr. Perridge said, and not hand-stitched.

Picking up the typeset Bible text not only speeded production, Mr. Perridge said, but also was a nod to the King James Version’s heritage.

“His Majesty is very fond of tradition and history and so on. And we thought, taken all together and given the anniversary [of the KJV] had fairly recently happened, that would be ideal,” he said.

That Bible isn’t the only special edition to be available in honor of the new king. OUP is also offering a commemorative coronation Bible that Amazon.com lists for $25.

And among the many books and souvenirs sure to show up for the event, Christian evangelist Ray Comfort has produced 500,000 copies of “Defender of the Faith: 10 Weird Facts About the Coronation.”

Volunteers will distribute the book across Britain during the celebrations.

Mr. Comfort told The Washington Times that his Living Waters Publications ministry released the book to present a Christian witness at a time when secular people might be more receptive to considering it.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to take the gospel to people who wouldn’t go to a church,” he said.



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