The Cherish of a Family Bible

IMG_20160703_140144796One of the many cherished items given to me by my parents is dad’s family bible.

This is a Catholic Bible, printed circa 1884, leather bound, measuring 14”x11”x4.” It’s a hefty Bible, weighing 13 pounds or 5.9 kg. Dad gave this Bible to me many years ago and for many years, it has been tucked away in the bottom section of a china cabinet. The Bible is not in the worst of conditions, nor is it in the best. I wondered, as I wandered through it for this challenge, if I could have done something to better preserve dad’s family treasure. The page that may have noted the publisher and publishing date was missing and I would safely guess that there may be one or two others that are gone from the yellowed pages of scripture.

In order to determine the date the Bible was published, I had to complete some research at the websites of Live Auctioneers and Holy Word Antique Bibles. I found Bibles with the same cover, but not the same metal clasps or with similar etching as that on the closed pages of dad’s Bible. Those that I found with the same cover were published in 1884 by P.F. Collier, N.Y.

Peter F. Collier attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati for four years. He later formed his own publishing company, printing books for the Roman Catholic market. 

IMG_20160703_135903471_HDRI came across a couple of terms that were previously unknown to me: Imprimatur, an official license by the Roman Catholic Church to print an ecclesiastical or religious book; and Vulgate, a late fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible. A respectable and informed Catholic girl might have known this, but evidently I’m not that girl.

In knowing where the Bible came from, its relative age, and the frequent use by my father’s family, I have a newfound appreciation for this cherished book. It’s a special remembrance of dad and confirmation of his faith and that of his family. Delving deeper into Christianity the past several years, I’ve come to appreciate the dedication of my father and mother in Catholicism and their servitude toward our common Savior.

In all likelihood, this Bible will not be handled often. I may look at it from time to time and think fondly of my father. The smart phone Bible app and three soft-covered Bibles are more convenient to use in the long run. And I think it’s safer being tucked away under several shelves of china and away from two cats.

For additional cherished Cherished Blogfest posts, click HERE.

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63 responses to The Cherish of a Family Bible

  1. joey says:

    A great addition to the Cherished Blogfest 🙂

    Beautiful Bible. I love the etching and the clasp. Such details would make me store it away in the china cabinet, too. Maybe it should sit in a fancy book holder.

    We are not Christians and we own nine Bibles. We would own ten, but as it turns out, the Bible was the only thing my cousin wanted when my grandmother passed, so I gave it to her. After all, I’m stocked-up.
    I love reading the family tree and looking at the incredible art in my fancy Bible, but whenever we want to reference anything, we go for the newest one, in the hopes of preserving the older versions.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks Joey. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the etching, or truly appreciate it, until I started doing research and taking photos for this post.

      It’s interesting that you are not Christian, but own more bibles than I do. I believe I have five, counting the family bible. Except for the small print, I really like the study bible I have because it attempts to explain the meaning of scripture and verses. It’s like the bible for dummies 😉

      • joey says:

        It is a bit peculiar. Would it help to say my husband’s grandfather was a minister?

        I think part of it is the fact that I just revere old things and books and people know that when they leave them to me.

        I rarely see the etching, it’s so beautiful.

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Yes, that helps to explain the number of bibles in your possession. When I was doing my research, I found bibles with the same leather cover, but none of them had the etching. I’m not sure if it’s unique or not.

  2. cleemckenzie says:

    Knowing the history of something always creates a greater appreciation for it. What a wonderful possession you have to cherish.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I took this bible for granted for too long, maybe because it was out of sight. I knew it was old, but not exactly how old, until I found similar bibles on different websites. I really do have a newfound appreciation for this family heirloom.

  3. joannesisco says:

    Mary, this is a priceless family heirloom. Beyond its age and history, I can appreciate the significance of its meaning to you – even if it only went as far back as your dad.
    Very beautiful and very special!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Since dad was an only child, I appreciate the information about the rest of the family. It makes me want to have a family tree done on both sides…perhaps a project for retirement.

  4. loisajay says:

    Such a great post, Mary. We have a mix in my house–my Catholic bibles and my husband’s King James. Oh yes. On the same shelf. Side by side.

  5. Paul says:

    Very nice. I have an old family Bible, and now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have gone with that instead! This one looks really beautiful and marvelously ornate. A real treasure, I can tell.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Well, Paul, there is always next year. I would love to see your bible during CBF17 and learn its history.

  6. dweezer19 says:

    What a beautiful piece. Isn’t it fun and enlightening to research the history of such an old and treasured book?

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I had to go on a bit of a hunt to find a Bible like this, but glad I did. I am hoping it doesn’t deteriorate too much over the next 20 or 30 years.

      • dweezer19 says:

        Of course keeping it out of direct light will help. I still have our family Bible which is only about 57 years and though the binding needs work, the inside is amazing. My brother and I used to sit and look through at all the colorful art photography. Most of it is Renaissance or Baroque style.

  7. Dan Antion says:

    Nice choice Mary. It’s a beautiful Bible. I love that you’re going to keep the leaf in there. I think it’s a good thing that it isn’t your go to regular Bible. I think it should be special. I love the cover and the etchings and the family information that’s in there.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I couldn’t bear to part with the leaf, although I wish I knew how long it’s been in there. The Bible itself is too big and heavy to use on a regular basis, although my dad’s family may have thought otherwise.

      • Dan Antion says:

        As a friend used to say “back when ships were wood and men were steel” no paperback Bibles 🙂

  8. M-R says:

    M-J, that Bible looks valuable … If you were a Pom, you could take it along to Antiques Roadshow and dazzle ’em with it …

    • bikerchick57 says:

      When I was researching, auction values from similar Bibles were $250-$500 US dollars, depending on condition. I’m not sure what mine would fetch, but it would be fun to find out.

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Whaddya mean we don’t have Antiques Roadshow on TV? Of course we do, on our Public Broadcasting System. Of course it’s the American version of the UK version. I haven’t watched it in a while, but when I do it’s always fascinating.

      • M-R says:

        Sighh … but the Poms often turn up items from the 15th and 16th centuries !

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Oh, okay. On our Antiques Roadshow, the items are usually a bit more current than that.

      • M-R says:

        there’s a reason for that, i reckon …

  9. Wendy Brydge says:

    Love, love, love this, Mary. Such a beautiful Bible and something that I hope everyone in your family will cherish for many, many generations to come. I honestly can’t think of an object that I’d enjoying having more than an old family Bible. Especially one that has genealogical information inside! Wonderful!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thank you Wendy! As I don’t have children, I’m not sure where this Bible will go when I die. I hope it ends up with someone who cherishes it as much as I.

      • Siblings? I am in the same conundrum but I do have siblings and passing some things to them. But mostly, I am finding people who want this or that and gifting it to them. or making notes of who I want to have this or that.

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I have an older brother who may not find special meaning in the bible other than it was his dad’s. I have friends who might cherish it, although I’m not sure because it’s my family history. Since dad was an only child, there are no aunts, uncles or cousins to hand this down to.

  10. Lovely post. Love the images. My grandmother’s bible is with my brother, but I have taken time to go through it. I love all the notations and things she thought of as she read it. And she read it. I refused to read the bible growing up — I must have had an inkling I was going to shift to something else because I’ve read Buddhist tomes! Remind me to send you info on taking care of old books. I will not remember in the coming week but remind me. I will scan a few good pages for you out of Saving Stuff.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I’m still trying to read the bible in its entirety, Katie! Been trying for a few years in between everything else. I would appreciate the info on taking care of old books. I probably should do something other than let it sit in the china cabinet. I’ll remind you in a couple of weeks.

  11. Peter Nena says:

    Before its history and the memories it inspires, by its very look it is a treasure. It is priceless.
    Thank you for sharing.

  12. First of all, apologies that I didn’t comment earlier. Sarah read your post before me and she was amazed to see the Bible. She loves her Bible given to her by her mother. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw your Bible was the pictures in it. I haven’t seen anything like it before. I cannot say I read or scan religious books regularly, but I have flipped through Bibles that my friends have and it is usually all text, no pictures, and drawings. This is a priceless treasure like you mentioned it.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      None of my modern Bibles have artwork in them. The Bibles that I saw online, that were the same age as mine, were similar. I came across one Bible from that era that had artwork in color. Very unique. How old is the Bible that Sarah’s mother gave to her? I’m glad she has that keepsake and that it means so much to her.

      No apologies needed, Sharukh, but I’m glad you finally came by.

  13. What a beautiful work of art, with the birth and death recordings a plus. I wish I had this kind of document for my family. An uncle did genealogy research on my father’s side but, for my mother’s side, I don’t know that much.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Even though I have names, births and deaths, I would love to have a family tree from my dad’s side. I didn’t know any of his family and his mother had passed before I was born. Some day, I may have to look into a complete family tree.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I’ve been taking the detail for granted. The Blogfest made me take a step back and look at it with a deeper appreciation.

  14. Kalpanaa says:

    This is a beautiful Bible and thank you so much for sharing it with us. Isn’t it wonderful that the Cherished Blogfest sent you on deeper research about this wonderful item?

  15. simonfalk28 says:

    It is truly remarkable. In the days when that Bible came to be in families Catholics were (sadly) discouraged from reading the Bible. But, they got them and put all sorts of things – wedding certificates etc – in them. Yours looks like a work of art. Beautiful.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks, it’s definitely beautiful. It baffles me why Catholics would be discouraged from reading the words they’re supposed to be following. Growing up Catholic, we were not a Bible reading family, but we certainly never missed church on Sunday.

      • simonfalk28 says:

        I think the discouragement was driven by unkind and sectarian Catholic vs Protestant issues. Thankfully that is largely gone now. Our family weren’t Bible readers much either.

  16. That’s definitely something to cherish. It’s special just in terms of its book-worthiness but that it belonged to your father’s family and it has all those BDMs recorded in it takes it to an extra special level. A cherished object indeed.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I have to take it out again and look at it in more detail. I’m sure there are more interesting details that I missed.

  17. LB says:

    This Bible is a gift, because of the family history and documentation within. I’m glad you are keeping and caring for it.

  18. likeitiz says:

    Sometimes, long after something has been visited, it still holds its value for the associations our minds and hearts have given it. Thank you for this post.

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