It is important to know what you are purchasing! Underneath that beautiful leather cover there are many things a good rebinder does to make sure your Bible works well and lasts. There are several levels of recovering a Bible.
The first is the simple addition of an external Bible cover. This is often a zippered cloth case with a handle. Your Bible fits inside and gets protected from the elements, pets, children and wild animals. However, tucking the covers inside the flaps (designed to hold the Bible in place) can cause the Bible to flex improperly when opened. This can damage the binding.
The second is glueing leather or other cover material over the existing cover. As an inexpensive way to keep using your Bible this isn’t terrible. I’ve seen some makeshift covers that used only on-hand materials and cost almost nothing to do. They don’t hold up well over time but when you don’t have extra money it is a workable solution.
The third is the one that can be deceiving. Some will tear the old cover off, construct a new one and then attach the new one. The problem is they often leave the text block spine just the way it was. In most cases this will not attach properly. I’ve seen some that glued extra material to the spine in order to make it fit a poorly constructed leather cover.
The cover and the text block are meant to work together. The cover protects the text block but it also aids in opening it properly. If the cover isn’t constructed correctly it can catch the pages resulting in damage to the text block (I’ve seen this too).
The proper method of fully restoring a Bible isn’t recovering - it is rebinding!
To properly restore and protect your Bible you need a complete rebind. If the text block needs to be re-sewn – this is the time to do it. Then, the old glue and material should be removed from the text block. Starting from just sewn-together pages the text block spine is built up using proper materials. Now the cover and text block can be attached properly using just one type of binding method. Further, rebinding by hand allows for greater care and attention to detail.
Complete rebinding takes time. It varies from one rebinder to the next, of course, and it is difficult to give an average time for a rebind. Often, this time is spread out over many days. Several stages of rebinding require glue to dry or materials to sit in a press. Every extra detail adds time as well. Hand stitching, extra imprinting, special tool work, snaps, flaps and zippers all add even more time. Hiring a craftsman to do a job is not cheap. It is, however, a blessing to have an expert restore your precious Bible. Done properly, a good rebind can last decades – even a lifetime!