Any serious genealogist would be well-advised to search every available source for the records of their ancestors. A surprisingly good source for family history materials is EBay. (Now before I go any further, let me just say that I have no connection to EBay other than making a few sporadic purchases over the past couple of years.) There are hundreds of sources from vital record indexes and published family genealogies to CDs and DVDs with dozens of eBooks on them. In this series, I am going to be outlining some of the interesting and useful as well as the useless and shameful items available for purchase.
One interesting category is old family bibles. Did you know that there are hundreds of Family Bibles on EBay? People sell them at garage sales and clever EBayers pick them up and flip them for a profit. I was able to find bibles ranging from the 1600’s all the way up to current times, containing various records or family vitals and important events. Prices ranged from $49,999 for a bible that supposedly belonged to Governor John Motley Morehead of North Carolina to just a few dollars for less notable families.
What an amazing thought – that after decades or even centuries in the hands of someone who didn’t know the value or didn’t care, these priceless keepsakes could be bought by a family historian with a connection to the family recorded on those pages. I think in a way, this is a great use of the technology available to provide one-of-a-kind items such as these bibles. On the other hand, it seems strange that people would seek to profit from items that held personal significance to someone else, but that is just my 2 cents.
If you do decide to purchase a family bible on EBay, be sure to watch for signs of forgery – such as names written in an old bible with a ball-point pen, which wasn’t invented until 1938. I would also be relatively skeptical of family bibles of famous and historically important figures.
The final point I want to make here is that of value. How can you accurately value something that is important to only a small section of the population – namely the descendents of the bible’s owners, but of little importance to everybody else? I would generally avoid selling items like this on EBay, as for me, it would seem like a form of (dare I say it?) blackmail. If the bible had little significance to me, but great significance to someone related to the original owners, I wouldn’t feel right selling it for a high price, but that is just me.
What do you think about buying/selling family bibles on EBay?
Other articles in this series on Buying your family history:
Public Domain Books