A curious college student in Portland, Ore., has discovered a 1599 Geneva Bible — the Bible of Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare — in the basement of his school's library.
The book — found at Lewis & Clark College's Aubrey R. Watzek LIbrary — could have royal lineage, according to the local Oregonian newspaper. One page reads: "Imprinted at London, by the Deputies of Christopher Barker, Printer to the Queenes most excellent Majestie."
"It's quite rare," said Hannah Crummé, the archivist at Lewis & Clark College.
This edition of the Bible made the scriptures accessible through many elaborate woodcut illustrations. One, titled "The Situation of the Garden of Eden," is a map of the ancient Middle East, showing "The Great Armenia," "Mesopotamie," "Babylone" and "The Golphe of the Persian Sea."
The Bible is in good condition despite repairs that wouldn't meet today's book-conservation standards, the newspaper reported.
Crummé has traced its ownership to Francis Fry, a 19th-century Bible collector in England.
Student Sam Bussan was working in the special collections and archives on Sept. 27. As he was preparing to leave for the day, he spotted a label on a bottom shelf that read "Bibles."
Intrigued, he opened the four boxes and "found all these incredible books," including Bibles from the 17th through 19th centuries.
"To have that end up in such an unlikely place is very exciting and intriguing," Bussan said. "The quality of printing is really amazing."
According to the Oregonian, the 1599 Geneva Bible is the second-oldest book in the school's collection, as they have one book that is about 500 years old.