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Whatever The Cost

January 8, 2019

Do you know what’s not particularly valuable but seems like it should be?

Old bibles.

Seriously, you cannot even give them away. I know. I tried. Well, sort of. My lovely wife’s family had an old family bible. And it was very old, at least by American standards. It was printed in the 1880s.

Books, like anything, wear out. It’s why we value old things, I think. Or maybe it’s the idea of connecting with our history that makes us value them. In any case, my lovely wife’s family had this old bible. And it was in the care of one of her brothers. He sent out an email asking if “anyone wants to the old bible.” She was the only one who spoke up.

When it arrived it could best be described as “A book in a box.” The book was huge, well over 1200 pages. It was about 6″ tall when laid on its side. It had the cool metal latches that hold the covers together. Or they would if the back cover wasn’t disconnected.

There were mutiple pages that had come out and many that were disinagrating, mere fragments.

It sat like that for many years. At one point we decided that maybe we should donate it to a place that would give it some care. I offered it to the local university library. It was at that point that I learned the fate of old bibles. The fact is, they just aren’t that valued. And that’s if they are in good condition.

Online the valuable ones are the ones without the genealogy page filled in. People aren’t interested in buying a book with your family’s genealogy. My lovely wife’s book had all the genealogy pages filled in. Interestingly the Temperance page, where people pledged to not drink alcohol was blank.

Overall my lovely wife’s book had a lot wrong with it. In fact, we couldn’t even give it away. So, it sat in our closet. A book in a box. Until one Christmas when I decided to give my wife a gift of a restored bible.

I had a friend, a fellow mason, who restored old books. I took him our book in a box and asked him for his opinion.

We can do a lot with this. It won’t be museum quality, but I’m guessing that’s not really what you are after.

What will it be when you get done?

It will be a bible that you can actually use.

He explained that the reason the bindings break on the really big books, especially the old bibles, is they were never designed to lay flat. It puts too much strain on the spine and eventually the binding splits. That’s what happened to my lovely wife’s book.

So, what do you think it will cost?

Hard to say until we get into it more, but I would guess that it will be in the $1500 range.

I’ve heard that old bibles don’t command a lot online. What would you guess this one will be worth?

Are the genealogy pages filled out?

Yeah.

Then, probably $300-$400. Still want to go through with it?

Absolutely.

While my friend restored the book, I built a a display stand for it. They were both ready for her on Christmas. That year we started the tradition on Christmas eve of reading the story of Jesus’ birth from her new/old bible.

It did come out to $1500. My friend gave me a break on the price. A pretty substantial one, but it still was more than twice what it was “worth” online.

My lovely wife’s family is thrilled that the bible has been restored. It belonged to their grandmother. A grandmother that was my lovely wife’s namesake. They all agree it seems fitting that she now has it.

It made no economical sense to pay to restore her book. In fact, like the story of the family piano, it was possible that I might have been disappointed in spending more for a book that it was “worth.”

The fact was, it was important to me to do this for her. And I would have paid any price.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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