I recently completed work on a family Bible for a friend’s aunt. It was dated 1879. These Bibles were sold door- to- door during that era, and range hugely in their production methods. Generally they are characterized as having heavy boards, often 1 cm thick each, ornate gold decoration stamped from one or two plates, and highly polished sheepskin.
For families who own them, they are repositories of all kinds of family memorabilia. This Bible contained several pressed flowers which stained several layers of adjoining pages, two death announcement cards, a green “pleather” bookmark displaying the Irish blessing “May you be in heaven for half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead,” and a marriage certificate from 1879. The marriage certificate was severed along its two folds, which I repaired with heat set tissue. Since the certificate did not fall within the parameters of what I was originally assigned to do, I did not attempt to reduce staining or acidity with it; I only repaired the tears, did some light dry cleaning and made a folder for it. It turned out that the current owners of the Bible had never seen it, and its appearance was a complete surprise to them! I might assume that since the Bible and the marriage certificate were dated from the same year, the certificate shows the original owners of the Bible. It was an odd coincidence that I found it as I was paging through the book’s vast quantity of illustrations, historical information, verses, &c.
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