Heritage,  Literary Pursuits

Heirloom Bible Story Books

A couple of weeks ago, I came across the biography of Grace Livingston Hill at a thrift store. I hadn’t known there was such a book, but I happily snatched it up for 50 cents.

I enjoyed reading it. The author, Robert Munce, is Grace Livingston Hill’s grandson, so it’s written from an intimate family perspective.

Last Thursday evening, I was reading it in bed just before I went to sleep. The author told how Grace Livingston Hill would read Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible over and over to her little girls in the early 1900s.

Child’s Story of the Bible

Child's Story of the Bible by Mary A. Lathbury

I collect vintage Bible story books (and by collect, I mean I have two or three). I knew one of the ones I have is Egermeier’s, but I wondered if the other one might be Hurlbut’s. I immediately jumped out of bed to see.


It is Child’s Story of the Bible by Mary A. Lathbury, copyright 1898. I really don’t know anything about it. I picked it up a thrift store awhile back because the fancy cover caught my eye. Now that I look at it again it’s actually a little odd with the cherub and the geese and the wise men. Victorians had some funny tastes.

Egermeier’s Bible Story Book

Egermeier's Bible Story Book

I grew up with Egermeier’s Bible Story Book. The one on the left is the one my mother read over and over to her little girls and boys. Later, I remember my little brother keeping it on our pew at church and poring over the pictures while our daddy preached.

We inherited the one on the left from Lyle’s grandma a number of years ago. It’s an earlier edition and is very different from the 1970s era edition from my childhood.

Egermeier's Bible Story Book

It has Grandma’s name inscribed in it and the date March 22, 1944. She apparently did not read it to her little girl and boy, as they would have been nearly 17 and 14 then. I mean, I guess it’s possible, but probably not. Also, the blank “Presented by” line indicates that it wasn’t a gift. March 22 wasn’t her birthday. With those inconclusive clues I haven’t been able to piece together much of the history of this book.

Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible

Looking through these books, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to find a copy of Hurlbut’s sometime, just to add Grace Livingston Hill’s to my collection?” I figured the chances were slim that I would ever come across it for a price I was willing to pay. I rarely order used books online because I’m afraid I wouldn’t know where to stop if I ever got started. Mostly, I look for books at thrift stores or library sales, and occasionally, I’ll find a keeper in a Little Free Library.

On Friday I was digging through the random books at my favorite thrift store when much to my great surprise and delight I flipped over a large blue book with ..::drum roll please::.. “Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible for Young and Old” debossed in gilt on the cover.

True story!

The very next morning.

Are you as tickled as I was?

Hurlbut's Story of the Bible
Virginia Gatter

In faded purple ink, the inscription inside is “Virginia Gatter from Grandma, August 18, 1922.” The copyright date is 1904, so I think it’s likely the very edition Grace Livingston Hill had. This sweet little pony photo was tucked inside, presumably of Virginia and her sibling. The book is in very good condition for being over 100 years old.

The Old, OId Story

antique Bible story books

I happily added Hurlbut to the very vintage-est Bible stories displayed on my mantle. Aren’t they pretty?

Hurlbut's Story of the Bible title page

The illustrations in all three of these volumes are quite archaic. The language is formal. But I love how precious the stories are and how important it was to generations past to teach them to their children. May it be so again.

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