How To Get Many Years
of Service From a
Leather Bound Bible
Once you buy your new leather bound Bible it is time to break it in and care for it properly. Much of the information here is good information for Bibles with any kind of cover and for many books in general, especially hardcover books.
General Care of Your Leather Bound Bible
When you first get your new leather bound Bible you want to let it warm (or cool) to room temperature. You risk breaking the glue in the spine if you open a new Bible when it is cold. The Bible can stay cold for hours after a trip home from the store in winter temperatures or from being delivered in a package delivery truck.
The opposite of being too cold is being too hot. If the Bible is very hot when you open it for the first time, some of the glue may be too soft and cause a permanent place in the spine where the glue separated too much and never closes properly again. While you should try to avoid any type of extreme temperature situations with your leather bound Bible, you can mitigate much of the potential damage by allowing the Bible to warm or cool to room temperatures before opening. This is not just true the first time you open the Bible, but any time after.
Don't leave or store a Bible in a car. The heat buildup in a car can be damaging to your leather bound Bible. Never leave a Bible on the dashboard of a car where the sun's damaging rays can dry out the leather or soften the glue.
Keep your leather bound Bible out of the rain. A little water will not damage the cover of your Bible, but it will damage the paper. The beautiful gold gilding will end up with spots any time water gets on it. The pages can soak in water and swell. If you take notes in your Bible, the water can cause the ink on your notes to run.
While having a bookmark in your leather bound Bible is fine, it is not fine to have 20 of them. Church bulletins and Bible study papers should not be stored in your Bible. The binding of the Bible is designed for the number of pages that are already in the book. Adding more paper can break the spine of your Bible. Never place a pen or other thick object in your closed Bible.
Breaking in Your Leather Bound Bible
There is a method of breaking in a new Bible that is recommended by Oxford University Press. Their leather bound Bibles come with a little card in them that explain how to break in a Bible properly. These are good steps for other books as well.
First you want to make sure the Bible is at room temperature. Place the Bible perpendicular to a table with the spine on the table and the front edge in the air. Let the front and back cover open while still holding the pages with one hand. Press the cover gently to the table helping it to open fully. Next you need to take a few pages from the font of the Bible, open them and gently press them to the front cover. Do the same for the back of the Bible. Continue alternating between the front and back of the Bible until you have the whole Bible open flat on the table. They recommend doing this two or three times.
Fan the pages, particularly at the corners, to gently break loose the gilding. If you quickly turn the pages looking for a passage in a Bible that has not had the pages separated, you risk tearing a page.
It is possible that some pages were not cut properly. It is better to take a few minutes and inspect a new Bible so you can fix problems in a controlled environment than while trying to frantically find a passage while sitting in church.. If there are any pages that were uncut because of corners being folded in, you can use a pair of scissors, razor blade or X-Acto knife to separate them. Pages which have been cut awkwardly can be trimmed with scissors exactly equal to or slightly smaller than the pages around them.
Caring For a Leather Bound Bible
Besides keeping your Bible out of extreme temperature conditions, you should store it out of direct sunlight. The rays of the sun can dry out and damage the leather on your Bible. While you can't always control the humidity in the environment, placing a leather bound Bible near a heater will dry it out quicker than normal.
There is some debate as to whether using leather cleaning and softening products on a leather bound Bible is a good thing or not. Undoubtedly the best thing you can do is to handle your Bible. It is generally accepted that the oils from your hands will help keep the leather moist and will cause the leather to become more soft and supple over time.
Protecting your leather bound Bible in a Bible cover or case is good to keep it from being damaged, but you should still handle the Bible directly when using it. Slipping it out of a case and handling it while reading and studying is healthy for the leather cover. A Bible case can give you a place to store church bulletins so that you won't be tempted to shove them between the pages of the Bible.
While a leather bound Bible will have a flexible, soft cover, you should take care not to open the Bible to where the front and back cover meet. This puts too much strain on the spine. At most you want to open the Bible flat. Opening the spine more than that may risk breaking it.
These tips for caring for a leather bound Bible should help you enjoy many years of use from your Bible. One of the most important things to remember is that it is actually healthy for your Bible to be handled and used on a regular basis. A good leather bound Bible can be a family heirloom as long as it is handled carefully and used regularly.