Antique Books, Collecting

Rare Bibles – Short collecting guide

Rare Bibles – Collecting tips

As you may already know, the Bible was the most significant book in the Western world. It has greatly influenced culture, literature, law, and history. The Influence of the Bible grew with its wide distribution. As expected, the result was that the Bible could be found anywhere.  On the other hand, collecting valuable and rare Bibles requires real knowledge.


New Testament in the Greek language was printed in Leipzig in 1766.



You can find Bible to be among the most valuable and least expensive antique books. For example, Gutenberg’s Bible is probably the most valuable printed book. One single leaf is selling for a minimum of $60,000. On the other hand, you can find free copies of the Bible in churches or even download them from various websites. Therefore, Bible is certainly the most common book in the western world, especially among those written in English. As a book collector, you will probably encounter more Bibles than any other book.



Bibles come in all shapes, sizes, editions, bindings, years of printing, languages but also prices. This for example is a beautiful pocket New Testament in German from 1916.

As it is with all types of book collecting, the condition of the book is one of the most important criteria. Rare bibles from the 19th century containing illustrations and maps are very popular, but only those in excellent condition. Many important people in history left their ex libris or their signature as proof of ownership. This too can be an important factor for collecting rare bibles.


The structure of the Bible is also interesting to collectors. Jewish Bibles differ from those used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Catholics, and Protestants. Then, there is the nearly endless variety of translations. So, if you want to be a Bible collector, figuring out how to narrow the scope of your collection could be a difficult task.

Four popular types of Bibles

If you are an English speaking collector, there are four popular paths from which you can choose:

1) Old Bibles

We usually say that everything printed 75 years before the current date is considered an antique. But when it comes to the Bible, situations can be different. Some Bible collectors by the term old consider every Bible printed before the King James Bible, which appeared in 1611.  Experts value Old Bibles in German and Latin at $750 and up, while the early editions in English can reach way higher numbers.

2) The first Bible printed in a certain location

Collectors often search for Bibles that are printed for the first time in countries, states, provinces, or cities. Since the Bible is hard to print book, its parts appeared first (such as Genesis, the Psalms, and the Gospels). After these portions, New Testament would follow, and then the complete text.


The first Bible in Syllabic script.

3) Bibles in foreign languages

As you may already know, the original text of the Bible was written in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. You can assume that there are very few people who can read in all three languages. So, most Bibles are translated into various languages. Historians recorded 400 translations of the Old and New Testaments. If you chose this path, you could spend a lot of time tracking down a Bible in each single language

4) Bible Versions

The most famous and influential version of the Bible is King James’ version, which has been revised many times over the centuries. However, nine major versions were printed before KJV in 1611. After 1611 different English versions of the Bible were produced, and some collectors are claiming that there are over two thousand English versions of this book.

Collector’s literature

If you are planning to start collecting bibles, you will need adequate literature. A primary and most essential tool is Christopher Hamal’s The Book: A History of the Bible. Book represents an illustrated survey following the evolution of the Bible from the earliest manuscripts to the 20th century.

As for bibliographies, you can use the Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture. This bibliography covers Bibles printed in 600 languages. If Bible in English is your primary focus, look for Arthur Sumner Herbert’s 1968 revision. If you are an American collector, you can rely on The English Bible in America, by Margaret Thorndike Hills.

Images were taken from our store.


About Miloš Stanković

Miloš Stanković was born in Vranje, where he finished high school education. After that, he moved to Belgrade where, in 2014, he graduated in literature and languages from the University of Belgrade. After gaining a bachelor's degree, he also finished master studies at the same university. The literature and art were always his main interests. However, he is passionate about creating other content as well. He loves researching new topics and creating unique content. Besides formal education, Milos gained an education in copywriting, WordPress development, and SEO.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *