Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bible Found In Virginia Dump Has Little Value.

It’s been a week for finding old Bibles. A 188 year old one was found in a dump in Virginia and a 1200 year old one found in an Irish bog.

Having bought and sold many old Bibles for 13 years now, I don’t believe that the Bible found in Virginia is a significant find. Millions of Bibles were printed in the 1800s. Even small cities like Troy, Albany and Utica had printing houses that published Bibles. There has to be something very unusual about a Bible from the 1800s for it to have much value. I have sold many of them for $100 and less, and all in very good condition. The Bible found in Virginia is in poor condition, being split into four parts. I constantly get calls from people who want to sell me Bibles from the 1800s. Most of them I have to turn down because they are in poor condition or have no significant value.

The guy who found it claims that there are only six copies left of the particular Bible he found. So what. There are many Bibles which were printed by small printing shops, of which only a few remain. That does not make the Bible valuable.

To the lay person who sees few old books, a Bible from 1818 might seem rare, but when you’ve been in the business for awhile, you realize that they are very common. Almost every 19th century American family had at least one Bible. I have several Bibles from the 1800s right now. If this guy from Virginia brought that Bible to me, I would refuse to buy it because Bibles like that are too common and his is in poor condition.

This guy wants over $1,000 for the Bible. Anyone who pays even a quarter of that is a sucker. The guy who found this Bible is using the ignorance of the media to promote the sale of this Bible.

If the Bible was from the 1600s or early 1700s, I might consider buying it because Bibles from that time period are getting scarcer by the year. Just to show you how inexpensively old Bibles can go for, however, I purchased a Geneva Bible printed in 1619 from another book dealer who was no slouch for $800. It was in great shape. I then turned around and sold it for $900 to make a quick $100. Most family Bibles from the 1800s, I sell for $150-$250 if in very good condition.

The Bible, or part of the Bible, found in a bog in Ireland last week is another story. Its worth would be difficult to calculate. It was “published” long before the invention of the printing press. Prior to the invention of the printing press, Bibles were laboriously copied by hand. Many of them were illuminated or illustrated and are works of art.

In any event, the real value of the Bible, like any classic, is in the reading of it. I suggest that the dumpster diver in Virginia keep his Bible and read it.


  • Dan,
    Not to commercialize this blog, but how would I estimate the value of an old book?

    By Blogger fxrsjoe, at 9:17 AM  

  • The easiest way is to try to find the same title in comparable condition on

    By Blogger Dan Weaver, at 2:30 PM  

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