Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Civil War Bible Part 2: Dogeared pages

While doing paper repair on books, I often encounter “dog-ears,” those pages turned up or down at the corners. Did the corner get bent by accident—or was it turned down to mark a place? When mending pages, I need to be sensitive to the content of the page, not just its condition. For example, this Bible (previous post) was owned by a Civil War soldier, most likely a young man. I saw that a section on sexual purity had a turned-down corner. If I remember correctly, it was Psalm 119:9, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.”  Another page corner was turned down at Chapter 15 in the gospel of Luke, captioned “The Prodigal Son.” Family history? Perhaps a headstrong son headed off to war against his father’s wishes, or chose the “wrong” side?  I left the dogears as I found them.  A brutal, bloody war left thousands dead a century and a half ago, yet these two folded-down pages reached across the years to me and spoke of a young man's struggle to live a personal faith, with hope of reconciliation and a glad homecoming.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Civil War Bible

The back cover was missing from this Civil War Bible. I couldn’t replicate the cover pattern, but I could keep the soft, old “feel” of this precious little book. I hand-dyed linen fabric by immersing it in Rit dye in boiling water and stirring the fabric in a saucepan on the stove, the way my mother used to do. 

The notice on the inside front pastedown reads:
Bible House, Baltimore

                  _____________ 186__

            From the Maryland State Bible Society

To _______________________, Soldier in the
___ Regiment, Company ____ of __________
________________, Volunteers.
         Should I die on the battle field or in
Hospital, for the sake of humanity, acquaint
_____________ residing _________________
of the fact, and where my remains may be found.

I suggested a box to protect and display this Bible, and the client requested blue and gray. I have made another box for myself, for a similar Bible. I may try to sell my set at Middletown’s Heritage Day celebration in September. There are reminders of the Civil War everywhere around here.