a reply to: Utnapisjtim
It's a fascinating and also sad and disturbing topic, when we consider how many people suffered terribly or lost their lives because of a desire to
have or publish the Word in a language those around them could understand.
The oldest Bible I owned was a 1620 printing of the King James version, which I bought in an antique book store in London in 1976. It was a small one
-- octavo -- but in very nice condition and complete. It cost 65 pounds. I later sold it on to a Christian school (basically at cost) so the staff &
students there could use it to compare with modern versions of the KJV.
However, in that same shop, they had an original 1611 printing of the KJV. The genuine, full-sized pulpit version. I don't know if it was a "He" Bible
or a "She" Bible (as I was not aware of this distinction at the time), but it was complete, in superb condition and beautifully bound. (Just to
clarify, more recent research suggests the "He" and "She" Bibles were printed at the same time, but on different presses. Some "She" Bibles can also
be from 1611 if the title pages and woodcuts indicate it. All "He" Bibles were definitely first editions.)
"He" or "She" Bible, it was a 1611 original, not a later one. And the price? 300 pounds. Yes, three hundred
. That might sound cheap to us now
but being a poor college student at the time, I just didn't have that much money. For such an old and rare book I guess it was relatively cheap even
then, because in those days there was little demand for very old Bibles -- certainly nothing like there is now -- and the dealer said they'd had it
for about a year, if I recall correctly.
So, hoping my next question might lead them to offer it at a lower price or at least let us do some kind of deal, I asked what they would do if they
didn't sell it soon. The answer appalled me: "Oh, if we can't sell it soon, then we'll break it up and sell the individual leaves."
I suppose that is what happened. Such a terrible fate! A first-edition King James Bible, taken apart and sold off one page at a time!
That Bible would be worth a great deal more than 300 pounds these days (probably at least 100 times more), but it is not its "investment value" that
bothers me most when I contemplate that I held it in my hands but couldn't afford to buy it. It's the thought that it was probably broken up and
basically lost forever as a complete book.
My main reason for writing all of the above is just to give a little personal insight on one of the problems of preserving old books. Some dealers see
their worth only as a money figure and many great works have been lost as complete books because of that.
This is why I feel threads like yours are also important. It's not even a matter of individual faith, it's the history that is linked to these old and
rare books. They chronicle so much more than the words they contain, they tell us about the times in which they were created.
edit on 25/5/14 by JustMike because: (no reason given)