A Minnesota man found a Bible, which dates back to before the U.S. was founded, tucked away in his aunt’s attic.
Phil Handy, 76, discovered the Bible wrapped in thin brown paper and for years did not think anything of it, according to the Star Tribune.
But, he started to hear rumors the family had a Bible that dated back to around the time of the Revolutionary War and had dates of birth and genealogy.
He told the outlet: “The thought immediately flashed – could this be it?”
Handy had brought the worn and faded Bible from his aunt’s house in Florida to Minnesota and realized it was indeed the family keepsake.
It had been kept with conservator Bailey Kinsky, 33, of Valkyrie Conservation, but when Handy suspected what the item was, he raced to see if it was indeed the hundreds-year-old Bible.
The Bible was hand-stitched and small enough to fit into a pocket or a saddlebag and went back to 1767, 10 years before the Declaration of Independence.
Kinsky has come across several Bibles since she launched her own business in 2019, but this is the oldest one that had passed through her doors.
She told the Star Tribune: “The clients that I work with have family heirlooms that usually go back 100 to 150 years – not 300 or 400 years.
“It’s special to have something that’s been in someone’s family for that long.”
Handy said he does not mind that several pages are missing but is instead glad that it shows a link to his family history, the first person to write in it was his great-great-great-great-grandmother.
He told the outlet he would enjoy it to be in his 10-year-old grandson’s hands when he celebrates the tricentennial of the Declaration of Independence.
In order to preserve the book for future generations, Kinsky snipped apart the binding, washed the pages and bathed them in neutralized acid before letting them dry.
The careful process had to be done at the right pace, as drying the pages too quickly could cause them to warp, while doing so too slowly might make them start to mold.
Handy paid $650 for the project, something he called: “A steal.”
When looking over it again, he told the Star Tribune: “It’s gratifying. It’s been around for 250 years, and unless we had done something, it wouldn’t have been around for another 50.”
It comes after a Declaration of Independence copy that had been lost in an attic for 177 years was sold for $4.4 million earlier this month.
The rare document was gifted to the last surviving Founding Father, Charles Carroll, in 1820 and had been unaccounted for nearly two centuries when it was rediscovered in an attic of a “Scottish ancestral home” earlier this year.
It finally made its return to the U.S. and was sold at Freeman’s in Philadelphia, the home of the original declaration, for a staggering $4,420,000 on July 1.
Oh, how astounding must it be, to have a Bible that hasn’t been read in two hundred years! Put it away carefully and do not spoil this great family tradition.