The last time I visited my sister, we went through a box that had been stashed in her storage shed for years.
Talk about a time capsule! For a couple of hours, we felt like we were on an archaeological dig, delighting in the discovery of cards, photos, and keepsakes that had belonged to our maternal grandparents.
It was good to see so much family history, sad to see the shape it was in after 45 years of being shuffled from Illinois, to Florida, to Kentucky, and back to Florida. Forty-five years of being top, then bottom, of the heap. Forty-five years of dust and bugs and mice and poorly weatherproofed attics and sheds.
So when we got to one of the last items, we weren’t surprised to see the shape this one old book was in, pages darkened with mildew, leather cover in tatters, disconnected from the pages it was designed to protect.
Lutheran Church Book. 1901. Grandpa’s name all but buried under 109 years of dirt and grime and neglect. Grandpa would have been 13 years old in 1901, so we’re guessing it was given to him for his confirmation in the Lutheran Church.
Tracie let me bring this relic home, and I called Mike Slicker’s Lighthouse Books. Mike is my go-to resource for all things old-bookish. Mike’s daughter referred me to Griffin Bookbinding, and David Barry.
I was much encouraged by the way David examined it but I expected the man to tell me the book was too badly damaged for any meaningful restoration.
Not so! He said he’d have it back to me in four weeks, at a price that didn’t make me want to die.
He called me two weeks later and said it was ready.
Ready? It was beautiful:
I hadn’t realized the pages were gilt-edged. David restitched the pages to the cover, restored the leather, revealed some beautiful tooled engraving, and lo! Grandpa’s name had been printed in gold leaf, not simply pressed into the leather. David even made pages whole that had been eaten away by time and the occasional hungry vermin.
I’m going to debut the book this Sunday, at the Lutheran Church in Starke, when I go back to show my sister David’s wonderful handiwork.
What a treasure!
Hugs and laughter,