Rare Bible known as the “Sword Bible” Auctioned at Tajan in Paris June 20, 2023

PARIS – Tajan will soon present a very rare bible know as the “Sword Bible”, the very first Protestant Bible published in Geneva in 1540 by Jean Girard, which also happens to be the first revision of the Olivétan text.



Olivétan had published the very first French translation of the Protestant Bible in Neuchâtel in 1535, but the venture was a commercial failure: the Protestant authorities then sought a more effective way to disseminate their Bible.

Antoine Marcourt and Jean Morand, two preachers from Geneva, undertook this revision of Olivétan’s translation, long before Calvin, who was then banished from Geneva. Jean Girard used his Roman typeface, which was more legible than the Gothic typeface, and chose a small format, more practical than the usual folio.

This Bible, key in the history of Protestantism, is extremely rare; only one copy has been sold at auction over the years, and only 18 copies are known to exist in public libraries worldwide (these are mostly incomplete and in later bindings).

Our copy is quite remarkable as it is preserved in its beautiful period binding, in embossed sow skin.


The Sword Bible. Geneva, Jean Girard, 1540
Extremely rare first Geneva French Bible, and first complete revision of the Olivétan Bible.
Exceptional copy in a nice period binding.

Estimation : 60 000 / 80 000 €

Result (with buyer’s premium) : 91 750 €



Discover an exclusive presentation of the first “Bible of the Sword” by Ségolène Beauchamp, expert member of the National Company of Experts




Books, Manuscripts & Prints Auction
June 20, 2023
Tajan, 37 rue des Mathurins
75008 Paris



Alexia Taiclet
+33 1 53 30 30 84
[email protected]


Ségolène Beauchamp
Member of the National Company of Experts
+33 6 64 67 12 60
[email protected]


Discover the Books & Manuscripts department




Press and Communication Service
T. +33 1 53 30 30 68
37, rue des Mathurins, 75008 Paris
[email protected]