The Pennyroyal Caxton Holy Bible
Illustrated by Barry Moser
Deluxe Limited Edition – 31 of 50, 7 Volumes
Pennyroyal Caxton Press, 1999
Much has been written about the monumental achievement of Barry Moser's Bible. It is widely considered along with the Kelmscott Chaucer and the Dove Press Bible as one of the greatest books ever printed. This is the deluxe limited edition which was limited to 50 copies (only 30 for sale) with this being number 31 and consists of 7 volumes each of which is housed in a cloth tray case of uniform size and design. This edition should not be confused with the regular edition of 400 copies which was issued in 2 volumes. A special handmade paper, with a small watermark designed by Moser, was commissioned from Twinrocker Handmade Paper in Indiana (over 10,000 22”x 32" sheets for the 50 copies) was used for the deluxe edition. The thickness and weight of the paper necessitated an extension from 2 to 5 volumes. Each has its own calligraphic title in gilt by Julian Waters on the upper cover of the vellum binding. The large opening "God" of the Old Testament, cut by John Benson and printed in red for the regular edition, was hand lettered in raised, burnished gold leaf for the deluxe edition.
In addition to the five volumes of the Bible (Volume I - The Five Books of Moses, Volume II - The Books Book of History, Volume III - The Books of Poetry, Volume IV - The Books of Prophecy, Volume V- The Books of the New Testament) the deluxe edition includes 2 additional volumes:
Volume VI - Contains the original Resingrave block for Moses in His Sepulcher signed and dated on the rear, the block has an almost imperceptible cancel. The block is nested in a fitted recess in the case. Also included is the pencil sketch used by Moser as a study for the illustration which is signed and dated and contained in a linen chemise. And finally there is the finished signed illustration for Moses in His Sepulcher contained in a window mat which housed in a separate linen chemise. The printing block, the Moser signed pencil study, and signed print are housed in a cloth tray case.
Volume VII - Contains a complete set of the 230 edition prints each signed and numbered by Barry Moser. All were printed by Harold McGrath on handmade Japanese Kitakata paper. The signed prints are housed in a cloth tray case.
Included with the 7 volumes are 3 copies of prospectus.
A film was made about the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible in 2012 entitled, “A Thief Among the Angels: Barry Moser and The Making of The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible” which tells the story of master book designer and illustrator Barry Moser and his visually stunning, intensely personal interpretation of Western Civilization's central text. It's a film about typography, illustration, paper, printing and binding, as the greatest living practitioner of the book arts scales his Everest.
The following are some of the editorial reviews of The Pennyroyal Caxton Holy Bible:
“Moser has created engravings wth the brooding power of magic realism ...[his] images aren’t the usual biblical clichés...some of his indelibly beautiful engravings are downright disturbing. ” —Malcom Jones Jr., Newsweek, October 12, 1998
“The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible project seems at once anachronistic, megalomaniacal and inspirational. Interpreting out most cherished and profound convictions in art is a project of uncertain success. Doing so at a time and place when those convictions are no longer universal and interpretations are easy targets of sectarian politics and secular disdain is even more daunting a project. ™ This single image [of Jonah cast into the sea] makes me certain there are visions in [the Bible] which only a modern artist can embody.” —Ellen B. Cutler, Cultural Dimensions, Hartford, Ct, March 1998
“I for one cannot look upon the images that make up the crucifixion without feeling the agony of that sacrifice. And something else. Call it the price god’s own son paid to buy back the human race, including—it would seem—the man who wrote these words and etched line by line these sacred images.” —Paul Mariani, Image: A Journal of the Arts & Religion, January 1999