1859 family Bible

When I was getting my MLS in the mid-1990s our professor told the class one day with a laugh that the question he was asked the most was, “How much is my Bible worth?” The answer is usually, “Not much.” This is because the family Bible was a ubiquitous part of most American households in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. A book isn’t “rare” if millions of regular folk own one. Many American families had only two books in the home: the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Family Bibles were especially plentiful in the north Texas town where I went to grad school. Though the area where I lived had transformed into a contemporary Sunbelt town, there were still a substantial number of Old Families in the community who traced their heritage back to the original settler families of the 1870s and immediately thereafter. I knew many of them through my volunteering at the local historical museum. No one will get rich on Antiques Roadshow selling their Bible, but they are nonetheless a fascinating part of our individual and collective heritage.

(image/David Ball)