Today I begin a four-part series devoted to old books. Not just any old books…
I’m a bibliophile–a lover of books. But I especially love books with history. And since I love the Bible–the greatest of all books by any measurement–I’m particularly fond of Bibles with history.
I’ll be tackling this series in four stages.
Today: Old English Bibles.
Next time: Old Greek New Testaments (a particular interest of mine) ((this may take more than one post)) (((I REALLY love old Greek NTs))).
Next: Facsimiles (reproductions of important works).
Finally: Incunabula (books from the first 50 years of printing’s infancy). Or, “really, really old books.”
One more note: all of the images appearing in these blog posts are from my own personal collection. I’m still new at this, but already I’ve amassed a handsome collection of pretty important works. You can too, if you know how to use the internet wisely.
Let’s start by defining “old.” What constitutes an “old” Bible? The answer is subjective. I’d say more than 100 years old for starters, but in reality that’s not very old. If we go to 200 years we’re getting warmer.
The trouble is that the value is not directly tied to age. Some 150-year-old Bibles are worth more than most 250-year-old Bibles. You have to carefully study the field. Which I have not.
For the most part, until you dip into the 1700’s, your English Bible collection is really just a hobby. It’s not yet a lucrative investment.
The good news for us is that 200-year-old Bibles are affordable on almost any budget. How cool is that? I once bought a church leader an old English Bible as a thank you for his faithful leadership on a board from which he was resigning. I was able to locate online a Bible printed exactly 200 years prior to the year he stepped down. Perfect.
If you’re interested in collecting old Bibles, this is a good place to start. Don’t settle for anything less than 200 years old. If you look carefully you can get one for $100 or less. And here’s the biggest tip you’ll get from me: learn to navigate these very important Websites (make certain you avoid print-on-demand or “new” options):
http://www.ebay.com (I ONLY use the “buy it now” option)
http://www.abebooks.com (simply the best site around for rare or out-of-print)
http://www.addall.com (a catch-all)
When your new old English Bible arrives in the mail, cherish it. Carefully look through the pages in search of markings and notes. Reflect on the rich history that volume has seen. Remember the 90 degree rule (don’t ever open the pages more than 90 degrees lest you damage the binding). Take special note of the smells from the pages. Reverently thank your God for the lives that have been impacted by this particular text, including your own.
Oh, and send me a note about your new old Bible. I’d love to hear from you!