This article is about a family Bible restoration.
A local customer brought in his cherished small mid-19th century family Bible for restoration. The Bible contains a unique handwritten history of his family going back almost 150 years. Unfortunately, it was so damaged that he didn’t dare handle it. Consequently, it had languished in a cupboard for as long as he could remember!
A simple style of Victorian family Bible
The Bible was bound in mid-Victorian leather-cloth. This is cloth that has a mock leather grain applied to it. It was often used as a cheap leather substitute. The book had lost it’s original spine and both of the covers had become detached. This left the torn endpapers containing the precious information about the owner’s ancestors unprotected and susceptible to further damage. In the long run, this risked losing the inscriptions and the information they contain, permanently.
The endpapers were repaired to stem further damage and preserve the family history information. The Bible was then rebacked in matching leather-cloth. The spine was tooled in gold in a simple style appropriate to that type of Victorian family Bible. Finally, the frayed edges and corners were consolidated. The Bible was returned in a condition where it could now be handled without the fear of causing further damage. As far as I am aware, it no longer sits in a cupboard!
This Bible repair is a good example of the sort of damage that Victorian Bibles sustain. Mostly, the Bibles I repair still have part or all of their original spines. Often though, they are detached or part-detached. However, even if the spine has been completely lost, a new spine can be created. This is tooled to replicate the likely style of the original. As long as a Bible retains both of its covers, it can almost always be restored.