Collecting Bible History
* Every collection begins with one piece
* Historic Bible pages are popular collectibles
* Exhibiting your collection for others to see
* Monthly articles and podcasts throughout the year
By FRANK DEFREITAS for WONDERS OF THE BIBLE
PUBLISHED: December 29, 2020 | UPDATED: December 29, 2020
Collecting Bible History
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Collecting Bible History
Did you ever think of starting your own collection of Bible history? Its not very hard to do, and you’ll love all of the opportunities that it provides.
Hello, my name is Frank DeFreitas, and I would like to welcome you to Wonders of the Bible.
You may not find as many people collecting Bible history as you will find collecting stamps, or coins. But it is a growing area of interest.
Collecting Bible history doesn’t have to begin and end with the the Bible. As with my own collection, Wonders of the Bible, you can have your own collection span many different topics.
But I must say this before I begin: it is more important that you actually READ your Bible … not just collect!
Many collectors focus their collection on full, complete Bibles. This can be very expensive. You also have the option of collecting individual Bible pages. Or you may choose to collect such items as vintage Bible based 3D viewmaster reels, Bible related stamps; coins; postcards; autographs of famous preachers; printed program bulletins from historic churches; even microscopic scripture and art that must be viewed through a laboratory microscope.
You will find that your choices are nearly endless.
While all of the above items are exciting to collect, you’ll find the most active collecting centered around Bible leaves. A Bible leaf is a single page from a Bible. Most likely it is available due to the fact that the Bible that contained it was falling apart, or heavily damaged, such as with water damage. Whatever the reason -- these Bibles could not be sold as is. So individual pages are sold.
Two very scarce Bible history collectibles: (top) An early computer punch-card with an excerpt from John 3:16 (source unknown); and (bottom) an example of braille showing both an a-z alphabet, and John 14:6 from the American Bible Society.
One such Bible that I have in my own collection is known as the Thomson Bible. This is a translation from Greek by Charles Thomson, secretary of Congress. It was printed by Miss Jane Aitken. She was the first woman to print the Holy Bible in America. It was and is completely falling apart. I gave away leaves of this Bible to women in our church when were still living in Allentown, PA. It was going to be a special 2020 Mothers Day gift, complete with a certificate and a short story behind the making of the Bible. Fortunately, I the foresight to give these away about two weeks before Mother’s Day. You see, by the time Mother's Day came around, everything -- including churches -- were closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
With Bible pages, there are many different categories that one can collect. For instance, I started my own collection by obtaining title pages of both the first book of Moses, Genesis, and the book of Revelation, or Apocalypse. I consider these my “book ends” and today, whenever I do an exhibit, the Genesis pages are the first pages that people view, and the Revelation pages are the last pages that people view. The rest of my collection on display is placed in the middle.
I usually display Genesis and Revelation title pages from Bibles such as the Latin Vulgate; Geneva; King James; and a Genesis title page Gutenberg facsimile from an original at the United States Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. There is also an original 450 year old Torah scroll for Genesis.
An extraordinary Bible illustration from the year 1650 depicting planet Earth in space. The scripture is Genesis 1:17: "And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth". Take note to the sun, moon, other planets, stars, and a comet. Also note the penumbra / shadow being cast into space behind the Earth. Take a moment to think about how extraordinary this entire illustration is for 1650!
As you may be aware, dealers do not usually go around ripping Bibles apart in order to sell individual pages to collectors. And any collector that values honesty would not buy a page from someone who would do so. This is not to say that it doesn't happen … I would imagine that it most certainly does heppen … but, by an overwhelming majority of dealers, this would never take place.
These pages that I mention are all available from many sources to anyone who would want to obtain them for their own collection. I should mention, however, that title pages are usually a bit more expensive, compared to the various pages that follow the title page.
For instance, the page that follows the title page of Genesis would cost a lot less than the title page itself. Then again, for some collectors, it doesn’t matter whether it is a title page or not: some collectors try and get one page from each of the books of the Bible. Still others would restrict their collection to a specific Bible: such as a King James; a Coverdale; a De La Rue printed in 24k gold; or a Bible from the history of America: such as an Aitken Bible; Sauer german Bible; or the first Bible printed by a woman, or the first Bible translated by a woman, and so on.
All one has to do is use their imaginations, and their collection will certainly bloom over time.
As one might guess, given the fact that different pages have different availabilities and costs, one would expect a list of pages that are the most sought after with collectors. And that list does actually exist.
I must admit: I was a little taken aback when I discovered that there existed a "top ten" list of collectible pages from the Holy Bible. It just didn't seem to go together.
However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that -- if people are collecting Bible pages, then there must be Bible pages that are more sought after than others. AND, if that is true (which it was, and is), then one could find out exactly what the most "popular" collectible pages are.
And that is exactly what I set out to do.
For my next podcast, February 2020, I will devote the entire program to the reviewing the top !0 Bible Pages.
One of the many pleasures of collecting is sharing your collection with others. Here is part of a display installation for a Wonders of the Bible exhibit. Many people really do not know how the Bible that they are holding got into their hands. By exhibiting, you can use your collection to help others understand our Biblical heritage that we all share.
I've had this list for so long that the paper is beginning to yellow. How did I get it? Well, at one time I used to travel around to various book shows, at which I would have the opportunity to speak with people that deal directly with Bibles and Bible leaves. Somewhere along the way I was given the information of Bible leaves that are most in demand. I would love to give credit where credit is due for the list, but there has been so much time that has gone by, that I have forgotten. The list is in my own handwriting, so I must have jotted down the information while speaking to one of the many brokers that I meet during book and ephemera shows.
The list itself was put in safe keeping, hoping that, one day, I would be able to create either a blog post or a podcast with it. Aren’t you curious as to what the top 10 Bible pages are? You may be surprised to hear the countdown!
For those who would like to extend their collection beyond just Bible pages, there is the possibility of collecting items related to various time periods. This, of course, lends itself more successfully to the more modern times … say from the 1900’s to today … but items can be found and obtained that date back much further.
In my own Wonders of the Bible collection I have: cuneiform clay tablets; ancient Torah scrolls; handwritten “pre printing press” manuscripts; microscopic scripture and art; historic Bible pages, 3D laser holograms of Biblical museum artifacts; art pieces that are embossed and engraved; lithographs; 3D lenticulars; posters; books; announcements for tent revivals; 3D cameras and viewers; postcards; 3D stereographs; personal letters; vintage Bible games; historic documents; autographs; magazines; letterheads; envelopes; postage stamps; coins; famous photographs; various objects of creation such as lunar meteorites and fossils; wood from a famous Noah’s Ark expedition to the Ahora gorge of Mt. Ararat; and many other examples of our Biblical heritage.
Most of the collection is assembled to document how the Bible eventually came to be the basis of the founding of the United States of America.
Many new collectors may also enjoy what I refer to as “The Bible in Popular Culture”. When one gets into the 1940’s upward through the 1960’s, there exists many collecting possibilities. Christianity was represented in very “pop culture” ways during these decades in America. One example was known as the “Jesus Movement”, which had taken place during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Collectibles from this era range from “Jesus is the Way” iron-on patches for clothing, to “Day-Glo” flourescent black-light posters.
When I think of this time period, I also think of things like records; View-Masters (which had a very large library of 3D Christian selections); Lenticulars; Christian-themed games; and so much more.
Noah's Ark expeditions are somewhat controversial. Regardless, they still took place. This is a piece of wood brought back from a very famous Noah's Ark expedition to the Ahora gorge of Mt. Ararat in the 1960s. It is a piece extracted from a larger piece brought down the mountain by Elfred Lee. It was given to me by Carl Baugh, of the Creation Evidence Museum. I produced 3-dimensional laser holograms of the wood in my lab for the project.
Going back even further to, say, the 1800’s, and one can find many popular items such as 3D Stereographs, which documented and supplemented the historical accounts recorded in the Bible. Back then, before radio, television, telephones, and the Internet, people would retire into the palour after dinner, and view these magnificent 3D views, which would sweep them off to the lands of the Bible. In 3D!
As you can imagine, the Biblical history collecting field is almost endless.
This new series of podcast primers is dedicated to helping you begin your own collection of Bible history. Or, if you’re not ready to collect, just sit back and enjoy the programming!
It is my hope that it will become a trusted and inspirational resource for Bible history collectors around the world.
Before closing, I would also like to remind you that part of the joy of collecting is *exhibiting*. There are many people that have never seen an antique Bible page, or any other artifact of our Bible heritage. This is a great opportunity! EVEN IF YOU HAVE ONLY ONE PIECE, you can BUILD an ENTIRE PRESENTATION around it: to show how the Bible is a trustworthy recording of history.
Remember, YOU can be the one to make sure that today's historical pieces are preserved, so that they make it into the future for others, to learn from and enjoy.
So stay tuned. Lord willing, I will provide many monthly programs throughout the upcoming year on collecting our Biblical heritage.
FOR GOD AND COUNTRY: A Bible given out by USA President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. It states: "This little Book attached to this card is the World's Smallest Bible. Containing over 200 pages of the New Testament and the Lord's Prayer. Every word can be read with good eyesight or a magnifying glass". It included a letter that was signed by the President, encouraging the reading of the Holy Bible.
If you’re listening to this podcast from visiting the web page, great! If you found this podcast somewhere else on the Net and would like to see the actual examples of what each podcast is talking about, just visit wondersofthebible.org and click on the podcast link. You’ll find a complete listing of all of the programs.
I hope you’ll stop by!
Once again, my name is Frank DeFreitas, and may God Bless You today and every day, AND, REMEMBER: to always love others, just as Jesus Christ LOVES YOU!
Stay tuned for next show: February 2021
"Science is the study of the physical manifestations of God in action."
-- Frank DeFreitas (Click Here for BIO)