Complete “Lunar Bible,” Flown to the Moon Aboard Apollo 14, Readies at Heritage Auctions

DALLAS—An Apollo 13 Flown and Apollo 14 Lunar Module Flown Complete Lunar Bible, copy number 14-10, “The Masonic Library Exhibit Copy”—with Certificate of Authenticity Signed by Apollo 14 Lunar Module Pilot Ed Mitchell and Apollo Prayer League Representative James W. Stout—is expected to bring more than $60,000 when it crosses the block as part of Heritage Auctions’ May 14, 2014 Space Exploration Auction.

The 1.5" x 1.5" complete Microform Bible is one of only 12 Astronaut Flight-Certified Bibles of its kind, resting within a hand-made reliquary containing over one-half troy pound (6.6 troy ounces) of 22 Karat gold beset with symbolic gemstones. The handmade binding within which the solid gold reliquary rests is by Don Etherington, parchment consultant to the National Archives for the "Declaration of Independence" and "U.S. Constitution."

“This is an incredibly rare space artifact,” said Michael Riley, Senior Historian at Heritage Auctions. “This tiny microform contains the complete Bible, all 1,245 pages of the King James Bible, both Old and New Testaments. It also appropriately contains the account of God's creation of the Moon in Genesis 1:16.”

It was printed as a miniature Microform book out of necessity, given the size and weight constraints for a flight to the lunar surface.

“Just 100 complete copies of the Lunar Bible landed on the Moon during Apollo 14 in the Personal Preference Kit, or PPK, of Moonwalker Edgar D. Mitchell,” added Riley. “A similar attempt was made to land these Bibles on the moon aboard Apollo 13. As we all know, that mission never made it to the surface. This Bible thus flew to the Moon twice, circling it once on Apollo 13 and accomplishing its purpose by landing on the Moon during Apollo 14.”

It then spent three days housed in the Lunar Module Antares, where it resided under the one-sixth gravity of the Moon and was exposed directly to the lunar environment each time the hatch was opened for moonwalks.

In 1967, a group of NASA employees formed The Apollo Prayer League, dedicated to landing the first Bibles on the Moon. Led by John Stout, the League perfected a complete Bible small and light enough to accompany an astronaut's personal effects to the Moon's surface. A total of 512 Microform Bibles were then submitted for flight.  One hundred of these were carried to the lunar surface and distributed through the years to various dignitaries. This is one of only twelve with an unbroken chain of provenance from John Stout through Dr. Mitchell to our sale.

A companion Lunar Bible (Copy 14-8: “The Museum of the Bible” example) is currently on display at the Vatican (“Verbum Domini II"), until June 22, 2014. Vatican Radio's recent press release titled "Bible Exhibit Opens in Vatican" mentions only three of the more than 200 artifacts in the exhibit by name: the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Codex Vaticanus and the Lunar Bible.

This copy derives its name from its 2006 exhibition at The Atlanta Masonic Library & Museum in “The Lunar Bible Exhibit,” opened on Nov. 17, 2006, by astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell.

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