This is an example of the style of family bible I work with most often. Very large and elaborate, it feels older than its 150-200 years. I often feel they were trying to evoke the past in their present of the 19th century, with their own family histories tucked into the grandeur of the biblical past. These cumbersome objects were never practical but I think their heft represents a kind of collective desire for stability and permanence. They are not the right size for reading word for word, and consequently, the pages of the Bible are almost always pristine and they almost always break right around 3/4 of the way through, between the Old Testament and the New Testament, where their family histories are recorded. I am always moved by the objects and mementos that are tucked into the pages of these books. Locks of hair, note cards, samplers, newspaper clippings, dried flowers and leaves. It’s amazing to think that saving flowers in books is a universal practice that cuts across time and cultures. It’s also amazing to know that people still care about these artifacts and go through the trouble to preserve them, as if they are a member of the family. While most of these bibles started out as new books looking the same, after 200 years, each bible inevitably tells the unique story of the families that cherished it, and the way it breaks is an aesthetic accounting of the passage of time. This is how it can be argued that even 19th century books have souls.