book arts


For 30 years we have been carrying out family Bible repair and restoration. Our workshops were based in the grounds of an active monastery in Somerset, England, perhaps for that reason we had far more than our fair share of family Bible repair. Looking at our receipts I see we had about 15 large format family Bibles in for repair a year.


family bible repairHere in our workshops in south west France we continue to specialise in family Bible repair and restoration of sacred texts, we send and receive books by secure delivery to Europe and the USA. We are also qualified and experienced in the repair of paper artifacts, such as family records and documents.


During the nineteenth century the family Bible was regarded as being more than just scripture inspired by the word of God.


They became devotional objects in their own right. Often ascribed the most important place in the home, and quite often containing family records and memories in the form of pressed flowers or letters.


family bible repairThe Protestant faith of the time, worshiped the living Word, and placed value on sermons over ritual, it is no surprise then that these family Bibles became such iconic objects.


Bible houses of the day catered to this market by producing massive family Bibles, complete with commentaries, coluor & black and white illustrations, family history pages for recording births and deaths, and covers that harked back in style to the medieval binding.


So they became the altar of domestic spirituality, a place where the sacred life of the family met the sacred life of the church fathers and prophets.


family bible repairUnfortunately the structure of most of these family Bibles lacked the integrity of the contents. In terms of design, many of these tomes harked back to medieval styles of binding, at least in appearance.


These books had massive boards, often half an inch thick or more. In further imitation of mediaeval bindings, they often came with clasps and decorative corners; some had protective brass edging extending right around the board edges.


These brass plated fittings added to the weight of the covers, and are one factor that leads up to a family Bible needing repair.


Another factor was the choice of thin sheepskin leather, so often chosen, to cover the book in; this leather was just not up to the task of supporting the heavy boards.


family bible reparDuring the 18th & 19th century massive amounts of fossil fuels were burnt to feed the industrial revolution, this resulted in high levels of dilute sulphuric acid in the atmosphere.


In the long term these acids rotted the leather that covered the book, in particular the part of the binding where the book hinges becomes very weak, that is why it is so common to find the front board detached from the binding.


With the advent of lithographic printing, colour illustrations found there way into family Bibles.




Often the publishers harked back to the time of the mediaeval illuminated manuscript in their style of printing.


family bible reparSometimes bronze powder was used to imitate the gilded lettering of the illuminated manuscript.


When undertaking a family bible repair, particular attention is paid to any family history pages. They are to be found in many family Bibles, and where they do still exist they can be a superb resource for genealogy.


The generations are listed, as the Bible is passed down through the family, so it can become a great help in filling out and starting a family tree.


Unfortunately these pages are sometimes very worn and brittle and need expert treatment to preserve them.


As well as having 30 years experience in family Bible repair, we are also qualified and experienced in the repair and conservation of paper artifacts.


family bible reapirThis is an example of damp staining and page damage from an 18th century Bible.


It is not possible to remove all types of stains from paper, but this particular example of damp staining to a 280 year old paper, responds well to treatment.


Using conservation methods it is possible to carry out almost invisible repairs to such documents as this.


In general, the older a paper is the happier the conservator will probably be, as pre 1800 papers may well have much more strength than many papers made today.


As mentioned we send books by secure delivery, all over Europe and the USA.


Rest assured your precious books and documents are safely sent and received, and while in our care receive only professional treatment.


Our experience has taught us what to expect and all we would need from you would be some good quality pictures of the book or documents to be repaired, plus information we can glean from talking with one another.


From these pictures we would come up with a firm quotation for the work involved.


When completed we would send you pictures of the completed work for your approval.


Our family Bible repair service is second to none. If you have a family bible that needs expert repair, or perhaps you have family records in need of conservation, please do mail me at the address below and we can discuss things further.



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