Crossing the Bench: 1808 The Thomson Bible.


We recently had the pleasure of restoring this set of The Thomson Bible, 1808, generally known as 'Thomson's Bible'; the earliest translation of the Septuagint into English, and only 1,000 copies printed.  Charles Thomson was Secretary to Congress from 1774 to 1789; when he retired he devoted himself to Biblical Study. 

J. F. Watson in his Anals of Philadelphia. . . (1844, vol. i. pp. 568-9) says of Thomson:  'He told me that he was first induced to study Greek from having bought a part of the Septuagint at an auction in this city.  He had bought it for mere trifle, and without knowing what it was, save that the crier said it was outlandish letters.  When he had mastered it enough to understand it, his anxiety became great to see the whole; but he could find no copy.  Strange to tell, in the interval of two years, passing the same store, and chancing to look in, he then saw the remainder actually crying off for a few pence, and he bought it.  I used to tell him that the translation which he afterwards made should have had these facts set at the front of the work as a preface; for that great work, the first the kind in the English language, strangely enough, was ushered into the world without any preface.' 

This copy has amazing provinance as it is  signed by Charles Thomson himself, and it was also printed and bound by Jane Aitken, daughter of Robert Aitken.  Robert Aitken was the first to print the KJV Bible in/for the US; Aitken's Bible was used by the Continental Army.


We restored the leather and rebacked three of the four volumes.  The fun part about this restoration was recreating the new spines to match the original bindings so well that one can not tell what books were rebacked.  Can you tell?  


More fun information about The Thomson Bible from the Library of Congress Information Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 46.  November 14, 1975.

The Bible on which the Librarian of Congress took the oath of office has both Library and Bicentennial associations.  The Thomson Bible, as it is known, was once in the Library of Thomas Jefferson and came to the Library of Congress when his library was purchased in 1815; it still bears the 1815 bookplate of the Library of Congress.
Charles Thomson was the secretary of  the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1789; probably no other man had such an opportunity to watch the continuing drama of the Revolution and the development of the nation.  One of his last acts was to notify George Washington of his election to the Presidency of the New Federal government.  After his resignation in 1789 he spent the next 20 years making and English translation of the Septuagint (according to bibliographers his is the first English translation of the pre-Christian Greek version of the Old Testament) and of the New Testament (the first English translation in the western hemisphere).  It was published in Philadelphia in 1808 as The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Covenant, commonly called the Old and New Testament.  The printer was Jane Aitken, who was carrying on the printing business of her father, Robert Aitken, famous in his turn as the printer of the Aitken Bible or the Bible of the Revolution, on which L. Quincy Mumford took the oath of office in 1954.
In January 1808, Thomas Jefferson saw an advertisement for the work and wrote to Thomson asking to be entered as a subscriber.  The four octavo volumes sent to Jefferson are now in the custody of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.  Jefferson initialled each volume at signatures I and T, the secret way in which he identified most of the books in his library; three of the volumes still have the original sheep, red and blue morocco labels on the back, and "C. Thomson" lettered in gold. 


Tradesman Hours as of 2017!

Thanks to Jill's incredible record keeping, and a goal I set for myself when I decided to leave academia to be a full time conservator and bookbinder, I’ve reached over 10,000 hours at the bench! 

As of 2017 year end I’ve put in 13,282:30 of conservation and binding tradesman hours. I’m thrilled to have met my goal of over 10,000 tradesman hours, and I’m excited to continue to put in the time, creativity, experience, and hard work at the bench as I continue my work in conservation and binding. 


Looking back over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work on amazing rare and collectible books.  When I was earning my Masters and learning about conservation the first collectible rare book I ever worked on was a Johnson’s Dictionary, and since those early days of getting my feet wet I’ve gone on to work on ephemera from the 13th Century, several first edition King James Bibles, a Latin New Testament from 1450, almost 100 first edition Book of Mormons, a Gutenberg leaf, a beautiful Book of Hours from the 12th-13th Century, a first edition Common Sense, countless early Mormon history books, a Shakespeare 4th Folio, and just about everything in between.

My wife and I have learned so much over the years and we have met wonderful collectors and book sellers too, most of whom we call our friends now rather than clients.  We’re excited to continue our journey in rare books, and enjoy sharing pieces of our journey with you here and on social media.

Below are some fun images of what 13,282:30 on the bench work looks like.  


97th First Edition Book of Mormon, 1830, Restored.


As of 2017 this will be the 97th First Edition Book of Mormon I’ve restored so far in my career as a conservationist. It’s a fun statistic, and I dare say I’ve worked on more early LDS books, in addition to 1830s, than the LDS Church Archives have; all thanks to amazing private collectors! 


In the Kitchen at Eidolon: Soft Caramels


Growing up, every year around Christmas my mom and Aunt June baked and made all sorts of delicious cookies and candies. They would make up pretty festive plates with a variety of their treats and take them around to their neighbors and friends. Now that I’ve moved away I still continue to do this tradition, as do they. 

A few of my Facebook friends asked for our caramel candy recipe after I posted a photo of my recent batch, and it’s so much easier to write a blog when it comes to recipes, so here you are. Enjoy! 

First prep your 9X13 pan for cooling by brushing melted butter all over. It’s best to have as much as possible prepared beforehand when making candy. 

Ingredients: One 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk, one cup of butter, one and a half cup of corn syrup, and two cups of white granulated sugar.  

Directions:  Combine all ingredients in a large heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until boiling. Next add a candy thermometer and stir until mixture reaches soft ball stage 235°-240°. Pour into a buttered 9X13 pan. Let cool and then cut into squares, and wrap each piece into pre-cut wax paper squares.  

Note: Patience is key when making candy; sugar continues to get hot, so grab a stool and keep stiring until your candy reaches the proper temperature; do not turn up the heat in an effort to speed up the process; you’ll end up burning the candy.  

I like my caramel a bit harder than soft ball consistency, so I cook my caramel closer to hard ball temps  (250° - 265°). 


Crossing the Bench: Geneva Bible, 1568.


We received this old Bible in bad shape, as you can see from the picture above, but we went to work saving it, and it will live to see  several more centuries to come!  


We removed the old tattered cover and removed a lot of dirt, old rubber cement, and insect cocoons. There had been previous restoration—the kind that actually causes damage—hence the rubber cement. There was also rediculous oversewing, so we took that out too.  


While cleaning up the spine we found fun very old parchment manuscript waste that was used to line a few signatures. 


The spine needed serious reshaping, so after rounding and backing, we left the book securely wrapped in the backing press with extra wrapping to ensure the spine would dry back in its proper shape.  


We embroidered new end-bands using linen thread, then cosmetically aged the endbands to look as if they’ve been on the book for a couple hundred years. 


We finished the project with a full leather binding, complete with a Renaissance tooling design.