Secrets of the Vault

Special Collections is best known for the items stored in the vault.  BYU-Idaho’s vault is a large temperature and humidity controlled safe built into the back of the library.  The vault holds BYU-Idaho’s most prized acquisitions, as well as some surprising items.  Each item housed in the vault is precious to the university, though some item’s worth is more apparent than others.  Here are some of our lesser-known items stored in the vault.



If you have ever been to Special Collections for a class, you are probably aware of our collection of Bibles.  You may not be aware that we have an original 1568 AD Tischreden.  The Tischreden (English: Table Talk) is a compilation of Martin Luther’s sayings.  These sayings were written by his students and table guests, and later compiled by Aurifaber.  1


Milton’s Poems

An example of  fore-edge paintingThe Poetical Works of John Milton is truly one of the vault’s hidden treasures.  Milton is best known for Paradise Lost.  This collection of poetry supports the freedom of the press and opposes falsehoods.  On the edge of the pages are four paintings, representing the story of Adam and Eve.  Because of the fragile nature of this book, it is currently not available to the public.

Kirtland Safety Society Bank Notes

Kirtland Safety Society Bank Notes

In 1836, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founded the Kirtland Safety Society.  This Society was a church-owned bank established to help out financially-strapped members.  Because the bank was not backed by the State of Ohio and because of the 1837 bank crisis, the Society failed in 1837.  Special Collections has two bank notes from the Kirtland Safety Society.  2 3 4

Hindi story of the Monkey and the Alligator

Hindi story of the Monkey and the Alligator

Along with leaves from the Qura’an, Torah, and New Testament is stored this 17th century Hindi manuscript.  The manuscript is a rendition of the folk tale “The Monkey and the Crocodile.”  A rendition of the story in English is also available in Special Collections for interested readers.

Mayan Poison Bottle

Mayan Poison Bottle

An original Mayan “Poison Bottle,” perhaps better known as a “snuff bottle,” is also stored inside the vault.  This poison bottle has inscriptions on each side, depicting what is thought to be the Mayan god “Ch’ul May,” the god of tobacco and jaguars.  5


Greek Papyrus

Papyrus was one of the widely used mediums for text in ancient times.  This fragment is from 90 A.D., and is a rare example of papyrus that has lasted throughout the ages.  As a plant-based material, papyrus generally deteriorates relatively quickly.

Special Collections is always happy to open the vault!  Come in between 8-5 M-F to see what other items we have.


  2. “Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual Lesson 121: The Church Moves to Northern Missouri.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016
  3. “Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company Note.” Kirtland Temple.  Community of Christ, 2008.  Web. 12 Jan. 2016
  4. Mormon Currency-1837 $5 Kirtland Safety Society Bank Note PMG 20 – AU Capital Management.” AU Capital Management. Web. 13 Jan. 2016.
  5. BYU-Idaho records

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