These miniature or portable manuscript copies of the Jerome version of the Bible were nearly all written by the young wandering friars of the newly founded order of Dominicans. With almost superhuman skill and patience, and without the aid of eyeglasses, an amazing number of these small Bibles were produced by writing with quills on uterine vellum or rabbit skins. No plausible reason has yet been advanced for such large scale production. They were used sparingly, as is evidenced by their still fine condition. Few people could afford to buy these volumes, which took the equivalent of two years' time to transcribe. Still fewer laymen could read or would dare to risk excommunication by the church. Pope Innocent III, some years earlier, had issued an edict forbidding the reading or even the touching of a Bible by persons not belonging to the clergy. The precision and beauty of the text letters and initials executed in so small a scale, twelve lines to an inch, are among the wonders in book history.