Pony Express Bible Donated
Joe Nardone, the Master Historian of the Pony Express, generously donated to the Foundation an original “1858 RUSSELL, MAJORS & WADDELL” Bible. These Bibles were ordered by the company in 1858 and should be called Alexander Majors Transportation Bible but have come to the be known as Pony Express Bibles in error. Nonetheless, these Bibles stand as one of the most noteworthy “association copies” in Western overland history. Two thousand of these Bibles were ordered from the American Bible Society of New York City. This was two years before the company would create and then own and operate the private and famous 1860–1861 Pony Express. The Pony Express would provide mail delivery service in both directions between St. Joseph, Missouri and San Francisco in record time.
PHOTO CAPTION: Historian Joe Nardone (on the left) presents his Pony Express Bible to Gary Kurutz, the Foundation’s Executive Director. Photograph by Brittney Cook.
Out of the 2,000 Bibles ordered only twenty-two are in existence. There were three different leather Bible covers among the 2,000 Bibles. Nardone’s Bible known as type “A” is the most sought after of the three different types. It is brown in color and calf-bound and in fine to excellent condition for its age. Upper case gilt lettering was used to inscribe the Bible along with detailed scroll work on the leather covers. The spine has the words “HOLY BIBLE” and the front cover has the following:
RUSSELL, MAJORS, & WADDELL
Length: 5 7/8 inches
Width: 4 inches
Depth: 2 1/2 inches
It is not known how many, if any, were given to riders in this 1860-1861-time period from the company. Many twentieth century writers claimed that all riders were given a Bible and that they would carry the Bible with them on their rides. The size alone would make it impractical to carry on their rides.
This precious bible will become a part of a permanent display in the California State Library’s California Room and is part of a special Pony Express collection donated by Mr. Nardone. He has already donated two bronze statues of Pony Express riders as well as other small artifacts related to the Pony Express.