Help me restore my old bible.
December 7, 2005 10:29 AM   Subscribe

I have an old (200+ years?) Bible that I want to get restored, any suggestions? Pics and more info inside.

My Dad was given this as a gift about 50 years ago in England, it was old then. There are some publishing dates mentioned as old as the 1700's but Im not sure when it was actually printed. It has metal work around the book edges that is bent and coming off, as well as two "buckles" that clasp the book closed. Inside are some beatiful drawings of scenes from the bible. The front cover has been mostly torn off and is hanging on by a few threads. Otherwise its in good readable shape.

I dont want to spend a fortune on it, but I would like to have a respectable restoration job done on it, rebinding the cover and fixing the metalwork, and perhaps some work on the embossing on the front cover.

Here are some large pictures to see the detail.
(It is sitting in the original cardboard box he used to ship it)

Bible Cover - 580k Jpg

Open Book - 320k Jpg

Side Binding - 330k Jpg
posted by skrike to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
The nuns at catholic school used to have me doing that. This is basic DIY, probably not museum grade, but for torn pages: slightly water down some Elmer's glue and apply with a fine paintbrush to both sides of tear. Place a piece of wax paper under the page, and assemble the page on it. Apply a little more glue along the tear, then put another piece of wax paper over it. Smooth with your fingers and close the book with a small weight until dry. (Do one page at a time.)

You could practice on any old book, done carefully the repair is all but invisible. Don't use too much glue.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:40 AM on December 7, 2005

Best answer: I would start by taking it to a reputable Antiquarian Bookseller. That way you'll know what you have before you start mucking with it. Given where you live, I think you should be able to find a number of people who are expert in antique religious documents.
posted by alms at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2005

Response by poster: Alms, thanks for that link. Ive been to Sam Wellers a million times (its awesome) but never thought of bringing a book there. Ill have to bring it in and see what they say.
posted by skrike at 10:55 AM on December 7, 2005

I remember Antiques Roadshow once said that they see tons of Bibles and very few of them are actually worth much or particularly collectible.
posted by wsg at 10:58 AM on December 7, 2005

Response by poster: Wsg, agreed. Its obviously a mass printed bible, Im more interested in having a cool looking old book around than seeing if its actually worth anything.
posted by skrike at 11:02 AM on December 7, 2005

Take it to the NYPL, or large university library. They've got book conservators on staff that you can talk to. They may do private commissions, or they may just tell you where you can go to get it done. Fixing books like that and doing it well, so that they're as good as new and will last for centuries, is really an art and a science, not a diy thing.
posted by Hildago at 11:13 AM on December 7, 2005

Ack, when I recommended the NYPL, it was because I was looking at StickyCarpet's profile, not skrike's. You don't have to fly to New York to get it done. :)
posted by Hildago at 11:16 AM on December 7, 2005

If you want to restore/preserve the book, no matter what its worth is, I'd recommend that you find a good book conservator. To do this, call your local library or art library or even museum. Ask for their conservation department, or whether you can speak with someone who knows about book conservation. They should be able to direct you to local conservators in your area who do work for private parties.

on preview, I agree with Hildago.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 11:19 AM on December 7, 2005

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