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    The Famous "Pony Express" Bible: One of a Handful of Surviving Examples of This Sought- After Item. Longtime Heritage Americana bidders might well draw an erroneous conclusion from the fact that this is the third example of this rare volume which Heritage has handled since 2007. However, prior to our first offering, our research disclosed only one other copy offered at auction over the previous 30 years! Only 300 of these Bibles were ordered by Russell, Majors & Waddell, the parent company of the Pony Express. One of the firm's partners, Alexander Majors, held deep religious beliefs and insisted that all employees of the company, even Pony Express riders, honor the Sabbath. Each rider was presented with his personal copy of a Bible from the stock of specially bound copies whose covers were imprinted in gold: "Presented by Russell, Majors & Waddell 1858."

    A 1960 "census" discovered only a dozen copies held by institutions. Adding to that total privately-held specimens and more recently discovered examples, there may be as many as a couple dozen known copies.

    The example offered here descended through the family of one John Harrison Jones, who was born in Kentucky in 1840 but moved to Missouri with his family as a child, and has never before appeared on the market. The family resided near the headquarters of Russell, Majors & Waddell, and by family tradition young Jones was hired as a rider for the new Pony Express mail service. While his name does not appear as a rider on existing records of the company, employment rolls from the period are not complete, and it is possible that he worked for the firm in a related capacity, even that he filled in as a substitute rider. Inasmuch as these Bibles were distributed only to Pony Express riders, combined with the Jones family's proximity to the parent company suggests that at the very least he was in the company's employ in some capacity. A tintype photograph of Jones which descended through the family along with the Bible is included with this lot, as well as a notarized letter of provenance from a direct descendent.

    The Bible is in very good condition, still with its original gold-lettered cover. An old repair using brown cloth tape has reinforced separations of the front and back boards from the spine. By family tradition, Jones encountered hostile Indians as a rider and was wounded in the process, and a few minor reddish-brown spots on the Bible have been believed by generations of descendents to be blood spatter from his wounds.

    We are pleased to be able to offer another provenanced copy of this significant artifact.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2011
    21st Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,369

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