Beautiful additions to home decor or a book collection, Christian books display passion for faith and history. Christian literature, particularly Bibles, has evolved tremendously over the years, featuring a variety of characteristics that demonstrate the contemporary perceptions of the faith and the dedication of the makers. Determine the age of vintage Christian books by understanding these features and build a collection of both beautiful and valuable volumes.
Consider the Maker
While many vintage religious books, particularly those more than a century old, lack marks, such as copyrights, publication dates, and even publisher marks, some at least list the publishing house. This is less of a problem with vintage books, and knowing the publisher gives some insight into its potential age range by narrowing the publication date to the years during which that house was active. Keep in mind some publishers see name changes over the course of several years. In these cases, identify when that specific name was used to pinpoint a window of potential publication dates. When publication information is not available, consider authors who contributed work to the book. Vintage prayer books, for example, contain different prayers often written and popularised by different authors and congregations. Research their origins to determine the earliest possible date of publication.
Buyers can often easily differentiate vintage books from more contemporary versions simply by evaluating their composition. Old Bibles were crafted for long-term use under the expectation of becoming family Bibles. These books feature hard covers, often with corners reinforced by stiff board or metal, as opposed to the soft leather common in contemporary volumes. The paper in vintage books indicates both its quality and potential age. While contemporary Bibles and religious texts use very thin paper to save space, older versions utilised thick, high quality sheets that stand up to continued use. Very old Bibles feature pages made from linen fibres for a smooth, heavy feel.
Wording and Translations
An effective tool for identifying a particular era of Christian books, evolutions in language show changes in the perception of the information and trends in the style of writing. Though not always effective, identifying the particular translation of a Bible narrows the potential age window. Comparing an illustrated Bible to a King James Bible, for example, shows more than just the differences in materials. Changes in the wording show how much time passed between the releases of the two versions. The language of the translation also indicates the age. With the spread of Christianity came the need to translate books into more languages. Identify when the Word spread to the area where that language is spoken to determine the earliest potential printing date.