1715 Bible For The Illiterate



I decided that Maggie Delaney, illiterate, indentured servant portrayed by Carol Jarboe, needed a Bible. What you see below flows from that project.

To learn more about why and how this replica was originally made and used, click the following link.  This link will take you to an article written by Kathy Cummins of GraphicEnterprises.net  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page.


Jennifer Roy with her pocket size Illiterate Bible at the Colonial Village at Fort McClary Kittery Point Maine

This collection of copper engravings by 17th century engraver, Frederick Hendrik van Hove, could have been bound and sold separately, like the one that was published in 1716 in London, or as a set of illustrations bound into a copy of the Bible as was our original 1715 Bible printed in Oxford. We have also decided to reproduce these engravings as part of our complete Bible as well as a separate book of biblical engravings.  This set of biblical cuts was “intended to help the young ‘attain to the knowledge of the historical and most remarkable passages’ of scripture.”


In general , illustrations (engravings) of the Bible, which could be bound with the text, served to personalize books, and to encourage readers to assimilate the high points of scripture history.  They tended to be expensive, however.

The engravings (each page) have a passage of scripture under them to explain the engraving, but the engravings themselves are done for those who cannot read.


This is a photo that Mad Anne Bailey shared with me.  She is holding her pocket size 1715 “History of ye Old & New Testaments in Cutts” book, aka “The Bible for the Illiterate”, that I made for her.


Since a large number of the people were illiterate, the pictures were done in such a way as so anyone who had heard the story, or event, would recognize it immediately. Usually, the image was drawn with the climax of the story largest and in front, and then the other parts of the story were drawn smaller and somewhere in the background, making one complete image. That way, all the points of the story were there to help the person remember what they were looking at.


What is interesting to note, is that although all the pictures are biblical in nature, only Jesus, Mary, and the disciples are dressed in biblical clothing. All the other figures are in middle ages/renaissance clothing, which would have been the modern style when the engravings were done.  In one scene, there is even a clock tower with a clock in the background. This was very typical of religious art during this time, to make everything in the picture modern except the Saints and Holy Family. At the bottom of this page you will find a slide show of all of the copperplate engravings in these as well as our original 1715 Bible.


Even pirates love our books. Robert Dawson, aka Dread Pirate Robert, sharing our pocket size Illiterate Cutts Bible.



“I live next door to a convent that owns all the property and woods around my house. It’s a beautiful place. I showed them your bibles and they have kept the picture bible there since I got home they just love it.”  Ken Bueche

I really appreciate Bruce Jennings venturing out into the snow in order to get a photo of himself holding his “Illiterate Bible” that I made for him.

Thanks go out to Ken Hill for sharing this photo of himself and his pocket size Illiterate Bible that I made for him