What Sort of Books are Valuable? Part III: Bibles

Old books are not necessarily valuable. Nor are old Bibles, unless owned by some important historical figure. 


Those who inherit the contents of most homes will find a Bible or two on the bookshelves. Some people are reluctant to throw away a Bible, especially if it is old, but in most cases, it has no monetary value. If there is any genealogy information written inside it and someone in your family has an interest in charting the family tree, make sure to offer it to him or her; otherwise, call your state library or county historical society to see if they would like to have it for their genealogy collection. You can also look online for buyers who are interested in genealogy. EBay is one possibility; for another, google the word “genealogy” and the last names listed in your Bible to see if you can connect with some interested researchers. If the Bible is in a language other than English, it is less likely to have monetary value and you will have a harder time selling it online. 

Some very old Bibles may have monetary value. What is “very old?” Older than you think. Those dating from the 1900s or 1800s are very common and therefore not desirable to book collectors. If they date from the 1700s and earlier, they might have some value. Books of that era, however, may not have a publishing date on the front pages, so if you suspect your Bible is that old and don’t see any indication of date, you need to take it to a rare books dealer for expert opinion. You should not have to pay for a quick-glance opinion, but you would expect to pay for an appraisal.

Consider donating an 18th-century-or-older Bible to a museum–you can take a deduction on your income taxes for its appraised amount, or, if you haven’t had it appraised and don’t want to spend the money for an official appraisal, do one yourself by finding similar Bibles for sale online and seeing what they sold for. Average a few sales and you have a reasonable value to declare. 

Always ruffle the pages of a book before you sell or toss it. As crazy as it sounds, some people stash money, bonds, or important papers between the pages.


About Mary Miley

I was born at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, where my father taught tactics to the cadets, so it's no surprise that my earliest memories are of the Corps drilling on the parade grounds to the rhythm of the Army band. I attended public schools in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and France, then worked my way through the College of William and Mary in Virginia as a costumed tour guide at Colonial Williamsburg, experiencing first hand the pleasures of wearing 18th-century attire during the sweltering summer. After putting my husband through law school selling cheese in Cleveland—aw, come on, it was a recession!—I returned to Williamsburg for a masters degree in history and a full-time job at Colonial Williamsburg, working with antiques and reproductions. It was there that I really learned how to write and how to make history come alive. When my children were young, I left Williamsburg for a thirteen-year stint teaching American history and museum studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and at the same time consulted with museums across the country on matters retail and financial. A free-lance writer since 1986, I have published a dozen nonfiction books and more than 200 magazine articles, most on history, travel, and business topics. During the past few years, I've branched into fiction, writing the first two of a mystery series and a romantic suspense, all set in the 1920s. The first, THE IMPERSONATOR, won the national contest for Best First Crime Novel and was published in 2013 by St. Martin's/Minotaur; its sequel, SILENT MURDERS, came out in 2014. I live in Richmond, Virginia, with my husband, an attorney. My greatest pleasures are traveling, playing the pipe organ with all the stops out, and reading mysteries.

Posted on February 5, 2013, in Books and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This article, “What Sort of Books are Valuable?
    Part III: Bibles Stuff After Death” ended up being excellent.
    I am creating out a backup to present my good friends.
    Thanks for the post-Bernard

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