Like Coin Invest Trust, Dutch coin producer Numiscollect have an impressively broad range of innovative and high quality coins in their library. Also like CIT, they have a good range of new items out for the period around the ANA show in Anaheim, California. The first coin we’ll look at is an unusual one celebrating a quite extraordinary medieval tome written in the twelfth century by a Bohemian monk called Herman the Recluse. A huge volume in the physical sense, the Codex Gigas, or Giant Book, is also called the Devil’s Bible because of a striking illustration on the inside depicting him.
The reverse side takes many elements of this incredible work, the most prominent of which is the reproduction of the Devil, the only coloured element on the coin. The background is filled with lines of latin text, the language used in the codex. To the left and right are symbols from the manuscript, and arcs of skulls, all helping theme the coin as the first in a new series called Dark Side. Issued for Equatorial Guinea, the obverse depicts the tree emblem of this central west African state. Also on this face is inscribed the denomination and issuer.
It’s a fine coin with a subject not often visited in the numismatic world. Struck in a ounce of fine (0.999) silver, the coin will come boxed and with a Certificate of Authenticity. It won’t be shipping until late October and the mintage is limited to 999. Lots of dealers worldwide sell Numiscollect coins, with North American distribution being handled by Skull Coins, producer of the collector favourite Lunar Skull and Zodiac series.
THE DEVILS BIBLE
The Codex Gigas (Giant Book), also known as the Devil’s Bible because of a large illustration of the devil on the inside, is the largest extant medieval manuscript in the world. Legend has it, that it was written by one scribe, believed to be Herman the Recluse, in the early 12th century, at the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice in Bohemia (modern Czech Republic). The monastery was destroyed during the 15th century during the Hussite Revolution. Records in the codex end in the year 1229.
The codex is bound in a wooden folder covered with leather and ornate metal. At 92 cm tall, 50 cm wide and 22 cm thick, it is the largest known medieval manuscript, weighing in at a staggering 74.8 kg (165 lb). It’s composed of 310 leaves of vellum allegedly made from the skins of 160 donkeys or perhaps calfskin. It was even bigger, initially containing 320 sheets, the extra believed to contain the monastic rules of the Benedictines.
About half of the codex consists of the entire Latin Bible in the Vulgate version, except for the books of Acts and Revelation, which are from a pre-Vulgate version. The Old Testament and the New Testament are seperated. Inbetween are Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews and De bello iudaico, as well as Isidore of Seville’s encyclopedia Etymologiae and medical works of Hippocrates, Theophilus, Philaretus, and Constantinus. After the famous picture of the Devil which gives the book its nickname, the works are Cosmas of Prague’s Chronicle of Bohemia, a list of brothers in the Podlažice monastery, and a calendar with necrologium, magic formulae and other local records round out the codex. The entire document is written in Latin; in addition, it contains Hebrew, Greek, and Slavic alphabets (Cyrillic and Glagolitic).
The manuscript includes illuminations in red, blue, yellow, green and gold. Capital letters are elaborately illuminated, frequently across the entire page. The codex has a unified look as the nature of the writing is unchanged throughout, showing no signs of age, disease or mood on the part of the scribe. Folio 290 recto, otherwise empty, includes a unique picture of the devil, about 50 cm tall. Directly opposite the devil is a full page depiction of the kingdom of heaven, thus juxtaposing contrasting images of Good and Evil.
The Devil illustration gave rise to the legend of the manuscripts creation. It says that the scribe was a monk who broke his monastic vows and was sentenced to be walled up alive. In order to avoid this harsh penalty he promised to create in one day a book to glorify the monastery forever, including all human knowledge. Near midnight, he became sure that he could not complete this task alone so he made a special prayer, not addressed to God but to the fallen angel Lucifer, asking him to help him finish the book in exchange for his soul. The devil completed the manuscript and the monk added the devil’s picture out of gratitude for his aid. In popular fiction, the 12 missing pages of the Codex Gigas are rumored to contain an apocalyptic text called “The Devil’s Prayer”
During the Thirty Years’ War in 1648, the entire collection was taken as war booty by the Swedish, and now it is preserved at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, on display for the general public. The website of the National Library of Sweden has scans of every page of the book and they’re well worth a look, utterly fascinating.
|DENOMINATION||COMPOSITION||WEIGHT||DIAMETER||FINISH||MINTAGE||BOX / COA|
|1000 FRANCS||0.999 SILVER||31.1 g||.0 mm||PROOF||999||YES / YES|
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