It was not appreciated at the time, as it was
expensive to produce and did not sell well,
but has since become one of the classics of
type design. Baskerville died in 1775, and any
Lodge possessing a copy of his edition of 1763
may treasure it as a highly valuable item.
Masonic Lodges around the world have
become custodians of not only rare and
valuable Bibles, but Bibles with important
The George Washington Inaugural Bible
is considered an important historical relic for
being the historical text sworn upon for the
very first Presidency of the United States.
The bible itself has subsequently been used
in the inauguration ceremonies of several
Bound in London in 1767, this Bible
was brought to the colonies and given by
Jonathan Hampton to the St. Johnís Lodge
in lower Manhattan three years later when
he became its Grand Master.
Just before Washington was to take his
oath of office on the steps of Federal Hall
in New York City on 30 April 1789, it was
discovered that there was no Bible on hand.
The then New York Governor, Robert
Livingston, a Masonic Grand Master,
borrowed the Bible from St. Johnís Lodge,
which had meeting rooms just a short
distance away. A statue of Washington
marks the site in front of the present-day
Federal Hall on Wall Street.
No printer in the colonies produced
Bibles at the time, and the price of the
London import, bound in maroon Moroccan
leather with silver clasps, was probably close
to a yearís wages for the average man.
Many Lodges may not have realised that
they may be custodians of hidden treasures.
Many innocent-looking VSLs could turn
out to have very interesting histories.
Although these volumes are much loved,
they may be badly thumbed and close to
disintegrating and in need of rescuing now,
before it becomes too late.
On a visit to Mother Kilwinning Lodge
No. 0, I was shown two 16th century
Geneva Bibles that had been stuck together
with duct tape. These and other Masonic
artefacts need to be sensitively restored to
retain their value and preserved for future
Paul Tronson is a Master Bookbinder
who restores antiquarian books to
period using traditional materials Ė
hand-made to exacting formulae
as his work here shows.
Paul has also restored many rare
and valuable Lodge Bibles and
demonstrates in his work not only
an in-depth knowledge of Masonic
history, but also a rare grasp of
traditional bookbinding techniques.
You can learn more about his
techniques at Period Fine Bindings
or T. 01564 793800.
Web site created by Mark Griffin