Friday, March 29, 2013

Old books: The Bible

     Everyone who lives in America most likely has some form of a bible in their house. I have news for you guys, it may be valuable. I'm crazy you say? The bible is not a fantasy book? Tisk, tisk. I could argue a case on both accounts. I keep mine in several garbage bags because I have no other way to keep it air tight so it will not disintegrate any more than it has.

    It's an American family Bible from the middle 1800's. I bought it at a garage sale around five years ago. It was in the same condition when I found it, so I try to keep it dry and as air tight as I can for storage. Its made of leather, weighs in at a whopping 30 pounds. The binding has brass strips in it, attaching to the front of the book so it can lock/trap.

     Sorry for the quality of the image, but taking pictures on my kitchen table while trying to get Easter locked down and a computer repaired at the same time can be frustrating. You can see the brass hinges and locks on the front of the book. Both the front and back cover are covered in gold leaf, and if you zoom in on the second picture you can see that the gold leaf has artwork of the apostles and the books of the Bible.

     Because this is a parallels Bible, the first 200 or so pages are reference and guide for the history and geography of the Bible. The pictures are amazing, and include detailed maps. Each picture is covered in a single piece of waxy parchment which has protected the pages somewhat. Some of the pitcures are color, some are not. A few of the pictures are gilded with yet again more gold leaf. Click any of the pictures to zoom.
     The orange square in the middle is where the tissue paper on the adjacent page allowed ink to bleed through. You can almost see the picture in the staining. The bleeding did not seem to bother any of the artwork, which is good.

     Obviously my pictures do not do these beautiful pieces of art justice, but you can get the general idea. The care taken to make this bible borders on the obscene. I can't imagine what something like this would cost to print back then! The binding was falling apart as I was turning the pages, so maybe it was not all that expensive after all.
     Anyways, I could post pictures forever as there are hundreds in there but I just picked a few and put them up. I'm not sure what the book is worth. I'll explain. I've seen similar condition copies go for over $100, easily. The real money is in the pictures protected by the tissue paper. People carefully cut them out and have them framed to sell. Genuine woodcuts with gold lead from the 1800's are pretty hard to find, so the value taken apart is much more. I really don't know what to do with it. My wife is a very devout christian and does not want me to sell it. I see it as something I
could just cut apart and make a few bucks on. Comments?


  1. Wow! It's gorgeous. I don't know what to tell you about cutting it up. Seems sort of like sacrilige...if I believed in that. On the other hand, it almost seems like one way to preserve the beauty would be to take out some of the pictures so they could be professionally framed and so doing, saved. It is a lovely thing, indeed.

  2. Where's my 'Executioner' stuff??? What's with this old bible crap??? Come on!

  3. Calm down sir, or I will release the hell that is Zardoz!

  4. That is a great find! I would keep somewhere preserve it. That is so cool!

  5. Your right FBC. I really should get it out of the garbage bags!