1771 Baskerville Bible

I bought a 1771 Baskerville Bible at auction today.

It’s in poor condition, and I have no idea if it is worth restoring or not.

Are there any antiquarian book experts out there, and perhaps any hand book binders who can offer any advice.

Full story, including video of the hammer going down at the auction here on Metal Type:


Guest posting is allowed on the Forum for now.

Look forward to hearing your suggestions.

All the Best
Dave Hughes

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My first move would be to determine just how many pages were really missing. If just a few, you could possibly find another copy to use to reproduce those missing pages and then bind them in with the old to make a complete text.

If far too many were missing from the Old Testament, you might possibly want to bind the New Testament as a separate volume, even though it were issued as a whole originally. That would give you a great example of Baskerville’s work to have on your shelf, whether or not it had a great value. You certainly achieved a great purchase price at the sale.

So, I’d evaluate what you have and make decisions based on what use you intend to make of the book.

John Henry

Nice work, Dave!

I would look for a conservator to give you some idea of what they could do for it and how much it might cost. I am not sure where you are but the Lambeth Palace library might be able to suggest someone. I know that they used to have conservators on staff 25 years ago, and presumably still do.

A very quick Google search turned up greensbooks.co.uk but I know nothing about them.

Worst case they can perform some tear repairs on torn pages and rebind it in a sympathetic binding. If you can source copies of the missing pages they would be able to insert them while they are doing so, but it may be wise to conserve what is there as is than fill in the blanks.

In passing, Baskerville was a friend of Benjamin Franklin.
Invented smooth paper, and also principal producer of papier machie furniture items and sedan chair sides. 3 times Lord Mayor of Birmingham, enlightened employer for the period.
Founded the British Federation of Master Printers, the’ BFMP’, now seemingly almost defunct. I would do my best with your book. I wonder what the paper is like.