Rebinding of The Last Martyr's Bible: Coverdale Bible, 1538.

1538 Coverdale Bible (New Testament),

1538 Coverdale Bible (New Testament),

We recently had the pleasure of restoring and rebinding this copy of a 1538 New Testament Coverdale Bible (Herbert #40). To date there are only about 4 or 5 known copies of an original Coverdale Bible:  Cambridge University has two copies, Yale has a copy, and we know of one more copy in private hands; there possibly could be one other copy in private hands but that is unknown.  

The history of the Bible is fascinating to us.  Several men risked and lost their lives trying to translate the Bible into English and other languages.  The main goal in translating the Bible into other languages was to bring the "word of God" to everyone.  The authorization to translate the Bible from Latin to English and other languages varied throughout the years.  Prior to 1539 a person caught with a bible in any other language than Latin would be imprisoned and/or killed.  This is why the Coverdale Bible published prior to 1539 is considered a Martyr's Bible.  In 1539 King Henry VIII gave permission to publish the Coverdale Bible. 

This version of the Bible is referred to as Coverdale because Myles Coverdale, a Lawyer and Bishop of Exeter, translated and published this version.  Coverdale based the text in part on Tyndale's translation of the the New Testament, and a few other books in the Old Testament were based on Martin Luther's German translation.  Coverdale finished the translation of the Old Testament, and so the first edition, published in 1535, was the first complete modern English Bible.  

 This copy had been rebound several years ago, but technically it wasn't bound in a period accurate style, and so the binding just didn't feel right to it's owner.   This is where we come in. 

I'm so happy we were commissioned to rebind this special book; when we disbound the book we found a lot of issues that the previous binder actually caused.  Unfortunately the previous binder trimmed the text block which resulted in trimming too close to the text.  The text block wasn't sewn back together, it was glued just like you find paper backs today, so pages were literally falling out.  Instead of using archival and period appropriate adhesives, the binder had used R-PVA.  The R stands for reversible, but it isn't, and this kind of adhesive causes a lot of damage, especially to paper that is nearly 475 years old.  The facsimile title page was basically a bad photocopy.  Our client was able to get a scanned copy of a title page from one of Cambridge University's copies.  We were able to clean up the scan marks, and then age the facsimile so it looked more authentic to the text block.

Here are the general restoration and rebind stats:

  • Disbound and then repaired broken signatures.
  • Guarded all signatures.
  • Resewed the text block with linen thread on alum tawed goat split thongs.
  • Added new facsimile title page.
  • Laced on wooden boards.
  • Bound in hand-dyed (by us) calf leather.
  • Applied deluxe gold and blind tooling on covers and spine.
  • All tools used to create the pattern on the spine were made by Joseph.
  • The dies used on the cover Joseph designed, so this book is truly one of a kind. 
  • Hand cut silver clasps made from 1921 "Liberty Head" dollars.
  • Hand embroidered "Renaissance Chevron" end bands.
  • Lightly aged the binding and finished with a polish.
  • Reworked the clamshell (previously made by us) for the new binding, and added a Coverdale medallion from 1835.
  • Total restoration and binding time:  54 hours.

See more of the binding process below.


Want your own Coverdale Bible title page to frame and hang in your home or office?  Check out our facsimile title page HERE to get your own copy and become part of the history!

Crossing the Bench Lately: Clamshell Boxes

The last Crossing the Bench post I wrote was all about restoration work.  This time we've been busy making clamshell enclosures, with only a couple restoration projects.   These boxes turned out beautiful too!  We made a full leather box, half-leather box, leather spine box with a hidden tray, a cloth box,  and a cloth slipcase with a leather label.  We also rebound a book in a beautiful speckled and treed calf, and we reattached a front board on a book.  We've been busy and loving every minute of it!

We added a new Resources & Links page to our website!  We're sharing some of the great suppliers we go to for our materials.  We also added links to great information about book appraisers, dealers, book collecting, and so much information!  

Resources & Links

Crossing the Bench: Rebindings, Clamshell Boxes, & Restoration

November and December are a blur in my mind.  I always say time flies, but the last couple of months in 2014 were INSANE!  We're not complaining at all of course; we have the privilege of working with amazing clients and on amazing rare books.  We worked on a first edition of A Christmas Carol, first edition Book of Mormons, awesome dental books from the 1700's and 1800's, and several other amazing rare books.  We made beautiful clamshell boxes for some of these amazing books too! 

Here is a peek at some of those projects!

Crossing the Bench: 16th Century Rebinding and 19th Century Marbled Paper Restoration.

We had the opportunity to restore a book originally bound in the 15 hundreds!  And we also had the opportunity to clean up a copy of Sense and Sensibility from 1846.    

Before and after rebind photo.

Before and after rebind photo.

Before and after photo of marbled paper boards.

Before and after photo of marbled paper boards.

The boards on the cover of Sense and Sensibility were quite scratched up and worn.  Joseph was able to restore the original marbled paper on the boards, and they look great!  Check out this short flipagram film showing a bit of the 16th C. rebind process.

We have so much fun restoring the treasures our clients bring to us!

We hope y'all have a great weekend!

Crossing the Bench Lately: Bookplates, Leather Bindings, Book Repair

We've been keeping busy here at Eidolon House and we're loving it!  Take a look at some of the beautiful projects that have crossed our bench recently. 

Leather letterpress ex libris.       

Leather letterpress ex libris.


This a custom bookplate we designed and print for a client of ours.  Bookplates are special way to keep tradition alive, and leave your mark on rare books and special collections.


1876 Book of Mormon Rebinding

1876 Book of Mormon Rebinding

An 1876 Book of Mormon.  A rebinding in calf with hand-embroidered end bands and extensive gold tooling.  This was a fun project; gold tooling is something we love doing!


richard cont.jpg

This is a clamshell enclosure for a copy of Richards' Compendium, tooled to match the book.  The hand tooling detail on the cover was a fun challenge and turned out beautiful.


Uncle Tom's Cabin.jpg

This is a great before and after of Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beacher Stowe.  Conserving your books will only help them last longer, and stay beautiful for years to come.


Reids book.jpg

Machu Picchu: A Travel Journal.  Calf binding with cuir cisele and gold stamping.  This is a small book we formatted, edited, printed and bound for a friend.  The cuir cisele boarder on the cover is a specific Peruvian design.


EH Bookplate.JPG

This is our latest bookplate design especially for Eidolon House!  We've had it made into a die for printmaking projects coming soon!  I love how well  this design captures the spirit of creativity, known as Eidolon!