If you think rare books and ancient manuscripts are confined to museums, vaults and hollywood movies, you're mistaken. The Remnant Trust in Winona Lake has a growing collection of rare books and historical artifacts.
"We have cool stuff. We have cool books. We have stuff that nobody else has," says Kris Bex, The Remnant Trust president.
The Remnant Trust is a nonprofit, educational, foundation that collects original and first-edition works dealing with the subjects of liberty and dignity.
Bex pulls a small red book from a large row of shelves inside a vault.
"This volume is one that was actually owned by the same family in the Virginia House of Burgesses," Bex explains, "and it is a first edition of the Federalist Papers."
The Trust keeps much of the 1,100 book collection in a temperature and humidity controlled vault.
One of the Trust's rarest documents is a hand-written book from the mid-1400s.
"This is the Book of Enoch, which is one the lost books of the Bible," says Bex as he opens the book, "this is a manuscript in its original form. It is in a dialect of Ethiopian. And the only other complete manuscript of the Book of Enoch is in a temple on the island of Lake Tana in Ethiopia and there is only one monk who is allowed to even go in and see it."
And if you think that is neat, there is much more. The trust holds a first printing of the Emancipation Proclamation from 1862 and one of the first printings of The King James Bible from 1611.
Perhaps the oldest document in here a rock with tiny writing engraved in the surface. It is an IOU of sorts, written in 2000 B.C.E.
Most of the collection is meant to be touched, handled and examined.
"We understand there is some wear and tear that is naturally going to take place with these documents. But our mission is to get people to talk about these ideas and so our thinking is we are willing to take that risk of that capital investment if we can get people to better engage with these ideas," says Bex.
The idea of the trust is to raise awareness and elevate educational standards about the most significant documents that have helped shape our country and the rest of the world.
Bex won't say how much individual pieces are worth or how much the collection as a whole is worth.
"The value of these is in content, not in cost," says Bex, "I want people to talk about these ideas and think about them not concentrate on the fact of how valuable the document is."
The Trust, which is controlled by a board of directors, has a group of contributors including individuals, foundations and corporations that support it financially. Most of the books and manuscripts are purchased in auctions, from rare book dealers and private collectors around the world. Some of the pieces are donated.
The Remnant Trust is only open by appointment right now but they are trying to finalize a list of public open houses for this year.
Right now, the Trust primarily take the collection to colleges, universities and other organizations for use by students, faculty and scholars.
For more information on the trust or to schedule an opportunity to view the documents, visit the Trust's website: http://theremnanttrust.com/wp/