The Oct. 26 edition marked the end of a 12-part series on resident Charles Payette’s Bible collection that has appeared in the Forsyth County News. The journey has been an incredible one for me.
When John Martin, senior pastor at Deer Creek Shores Presbyterian Church, first called to tell me about Payette and his amazing Bibles, I was skeptical.
Martin began telling me about just a few of these rare Bibles and some of the stories of various provenances. The more he talked, the more wary I became.
I didn’t even call my editor at the FCN to tell him about the story because frankly, I felt I had to see it to believe it.
My preconceived notions of what a collector of rare Bibles would be like — if the story turned out to be true — could not have been more incorrect.
I was anticipating an elderly gentleman, wearing some small, round spectacles and perhaps even a bow tie. I was sure a pipe and a brandy snifter would be sitting nearby.
I mentally prepared myself to feel intellectually intimidated and wondered if the collector would even think I was qualified to write on the topic.
I’m pretty much anxiety filled by nature, so in my mind I built up the whole meeting as a potential, pending disaster.
Well, this was one time I was thrilled to be so very wrong.
Charles was not at all the-intimidating-professor-type. Instead, he was welcoming and warm, immediately putting me at ease. In fact, he is quite funny and a fantastic storyteller.
Not many people are able to conveyer history with humor. It really is a gift. Of course, Charles is passionate about his rare Bibles. His passion is infectious and rivaled only by his vast knowledge of the subject matter.
I was captivated by his ability to tell stories about each Bible while also incorporating the history of the time period and the compelling provenances of the books.
After our meeting, I headed straight to the library and then home to begin my research.
A lifelong lover of history, I really enjoyed dusting off my college books and immersing myself in them. I spent weeks relearning things I had barely thought about in few decades.
Who doesn’t love the stories about King Henry VIII and his infamous quest for a wife to produce a male heir?
I was beyond amazed to see Bibles from this period up close and know they had once been held and read by royalty, clergy and members of the royal court.
For a history and closet Bible-nerd like me, writing these stories has been a true labor of love.
The quality and condition of Charles’ Bibles is stunning. I hope readers didn’t get tired of me using the words “pristine” and “museum quality,” but truly those were the best to describe the books.
While Charles has spent the last 15 years or so seeking out and acquiring these rare Bibles and artifacts, he remains humble about just why he has been able to obtain them.
Many times he said to me, “I don’t know why these things have come into my possession. I feel like I am more their caretaker than owner.”
Charles is looking into the possibility of opening a museum to house these incredible Bibles. And I’m sure all of you, like me, are hoping he decides to put it here in Forsyth County.
Can you imagine if our community was the home of the first-ever museum devoted to the Bible translated into English?
Of course, Charles has other Bibles and books in his collection, each with their own share of historical significance. He also has woodcuts that are as intricate as they are beautiful, along with other fascinating artifacts from hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
I feel honored and humbled that Charles allowed me to examine some of the books from his collection and that I was able to share them with readers.
I’m also grateful to the Forsyth County News for allowing such vast coverage of these books. I’m quite sure that most news publications would not have given the articles such a prominent place each week, nor would they have agreed to such a long and extensive series.
I also want to thank all of you. Your interest, kind words, and readership are what made all of this possible.
We at the FCN will keep you posted about what the future holds with regards to the museum and other happenings from our friend Charles Payette, or as I like to call him, “The Bible Man.”
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.