Bible Handling Guide

Antiquarian Bible handling, storage and maintenance tips.


When opening an antiquarian Bible for reading, great care should be used in preventing hyper-extension of the covers. Avoid opening covers at an angle greater than 115 degrees. This will greatly increase the service life of
the leather outer hinges and the cloth inner hinges. A floor or table top stand could be used to insure proper opening of the covers or simply roll up two towels and place them parallel to each other on flat surface. Place the Bible on its spine between the two towels and open in the center allowing the covers to be supported by the towels thereby creating an angle of less than 115 degrees.
From the center, the pages may then be safely turned forward or backward.
Much debate has taken place regarding the use of archival gloves while handling antiquarian Bibles. While they do prevent the transfer of skin oils to the pages, they somewhat limit dexterity which can lead to unwanted tears.
Thorough hand washing prior to reading is a good practice that limits both skin oil transfer and the risk of tears.


When not in use, store antiquarian Bibles flat and not erect in a normal shelved position. The weight of the text block will pull down against the spine causing structural issues such as the concaving of the spine and weakening of the inner and outer hinges. Use caution avoiding extreme temperatures and humidity which can cause foxing over time and direct sunlight which will cause unwanted fading. A good rule of thumb would be any room that is comfortable for you will also be acceptable for an antiquarian Bible. A storage box or cover is ideal for preventing a build up of dust.


Leather bound antiquarian need little regular maintenance.
Bindings should be cleaned and treated every 5 to 10 years. Never repair a tear with scotch tape. The adhesive is acidic and will cause foxing. The removal of scotch tape is almost impossible without damage. A proper archival repair is virtually invisible and wholly reversible.

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