Libraries are the Houses of Stories, for every book can tell a story, if you know how to ask it.
The General Library of the University of Coimbra possesses a precious Hebrew manuscript, painfully calligraphed either in Seville or in Lisbon, no doubts commissioned by a very rich patron. It is a family bible in parchment, with some private notes, but no colophon, e.g. no statement of authorship, place or date of completion. Since the commissioner of such a delicate work had to be very rich, the Abravanels (bankers in Seville and Lisbon) come easily to mind, even if nothing can be provided as evidence of such ownership.
Such a rich bible was a family Treasure. The book assisted familiar rituals and was used to write down the happiest dates and familiar events. It must have left Portugal in 1496 along with its owners. Out of Portugal it escaped the flames that consumed nearly all Hebrew texts grabbed by the Holy Inquisition.
It was acquired in Amsterdam by Professor Manuel Pedro de Mello (1765-1833), and brought to Coimbra in 1815. The Inquisition was only abolished in 1821 but was weakened by Pombal’s political manoeuvres and the new juridical environment represented by Pascoal José de Mello Freire dos Reis and other Coimbra Law professors. The cycle so closes, with the bible returning to where it was (maybe) produced and most certainly used.