Old books can be worth a lot of money, but sometimes the value in an aged tome lies much deeper than its weight in dollars.
This is exactly how restaurant owner Ruben Navarette felt when he found an old Bible left in his restaurant in Virginia.
The place is Azzurro, an Italian restaurant on River Road in Henrico that boasts “relaxed refinement, outstanding meals, and impeccable service.”
Impeccable service is right. When it came to finding the owner of the mystery Bible that was nearly 100 years old, Navarette wasn’t giving up.
When he discovered the well-worn book inside a plastic bag in the restaurant bathroom in October 2018, Navarette thought the owner would return soon.
“I wrote a date on it and stuck in the safe because I figured for a Bible they’ll probably be back the next day,” the restaurant owner told WTVR-TV.
But the owner didn’t come back. Still, Navarette held onto the treasure that had a date and a name written in cursive on the first page.
“Eleanor Pauline Dillard” was a mystery. It wasn’t known if she received the Bible on “December 25, 1923,” or if perhaps this Bible was one she passed on to a grandchild or great-grandchild.
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) March 14, 2019
All Navarette knew was that this Bible had to mean something to someone. He knew he had to save it for the day the owner walked back through his door.
He could have taken the book to a rare books dealer to see if it held any net worth. While it was no Gutenberg Bible — worth millions according to History.com — there was always a possibility this man could have gotten some cash for it.
But Navarette had too much respect for the old book and its owner to throw it away or sell it.
“You don’t want to touch it because you’re afraid you may break it — it’s so fragile,” he told WTVR.
There wasn’t much more than the name and date in the way of clues. A bookmark and a picture of Jesus were all he found between the fragile pages. Not even the restaurant’s reservation system was much help in solving the mystery.
After months had passed, Navarette decided he needed help locating the owner. He reached out to local news and soon the person was found, WTVR reported.
We’re so glad the owner could be reunited with this special book. Whoever he or she is must be so relieved to have the cherished Bible back in their hands.
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