Theodore Roosevelt’s March 4, 1905 Inaugural Bible

This Bible was brought to me for restoration. It had been in a fire and exposed to water. Of all the Bibles I have ever restored, this one was in the worst condition I have ever seen.

Fire and Water Damaged

Bible cover repair: before.

The Bible was large: roughly 20"x12"x6".

Pages had separated. They were missing small and large portions. The leather binding had not suffered as much, but the covers were warped, affected by water as the pages were, scuffed and slightly moldy, with the end papers destroyed.

The Bible had been in the possession of the Matinecock Lodge since July 1892. What made it special was the fact that President Theodore Roosevelt swore his second term in office upon it. It was a part of history, well worth preservation.

It was a long and painstaking restoration. Most affected pages were repaired, depending on the extent of damage, with document repair tape, or rice paper (which by the way is a misnomer, rice paper not being made with rice but plant fibers, as some paper is made from wood pulp). Some of the mildew was removed with light touches of bleach.

After the repairs, each sheet had to be lightly wetted and put under pressure between large pieces of wood to remove the waving originally caused by water.

Repairing the Damage

Repairing the water damage in a press.

The covers were under press for a while; the endpapers replaced.

Once the pages were mended, and reattached with gauze on the spine, a problem appeared. Because of the added paper and tape on hundreds of pages, the book was thicker than it had been and did not fit between the leather covers. It had to be put under press. However, none of my presses were large enough, so I had to improvise, using clamps and pieces of hard wood. I also had to trim part of the sections on which the covers hinge. Finally, the text block fit within the binding.

Finished Work

Once the text block was in, it was reattached to the binding. The leather was cleaned of mildew, treated and waxed. Cleaning and waxing the leather covers really brought out its beauty.

Bible cover repair: before.

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