Create Your Own Bible

Create Your Own Bible

It was with great interest that I recently read a press release announcing the Smithsonian’s restoration of the Jefferson Bible. Now, I am not what you would call a history buff, and can’t even say I’ve spent much time reading scripture. In fact, I didn’t even know that there was a Jefferson version of the bible.

But get this! Tomas Jefferson, at the mature age of 77, decided to create his own bible. And who doesn’t do this? It seems that it was something he had been contemplating for years. So one day he just sat down with a knife and a few different bibles and surgically removed the parts of the New Testament that didn’t suit his beliefs. Then he reassembled what was left into his own version of the “good book.” Quite an undertaking at any age. The man obviously had some strong opinions! But what I find truly amazing is that this 86 page tome is still around today, still legible and in good enough condition that it can be restored and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Jefferson completed his personal bible in 1820. The conservators working on the project are starting to publicize some of its secrets as they inspect every single page with scrutiny. A watermark was discovered on one of the pages. It clearly displays the name of the manufacturer as P.A. Mesier, a New York paper mill of that time. It speaks volumes about the archival quality of fine cotton paper still legible almost 200 years later.

OK, I must confess that I am a bit of a paper freak. I’ve always loved the smell of old library books, the crisp feel of a new dollar bill, and the beautiful texture of fine stationery. So it’s not much of a surprise that I now work for a paper company! But not just any paper company. Our company manufactures “fine business paper,” the kind that is made of cotton fiber with subtle watermarks that are built right into the fiber. Ours is the kind of traditional New England mill that’s been in the same family since 1839. There’s lots of great history around here, probably not unlike that of the Mesier mill.

I can’t help but think, if only our company’s founder, Mr. Wells Southworth had founded his business just 19 years earlier might we be reading about the Southworth watermark instead? Ahh, a girl can dream, can’t she?

However, Southworth can claim bragging rights of our own. Not about Jefferson, but there is another presidential figure who was known to have used Southworth paper for his own correspondence. You can read about Abraham Lincoln and Southworth’s contribution to our nation’s history.

Contributed by:
Susan Martin, Project Manager-Marketing Communications, Southworth Co., Agawam, MA

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