I’ve handled quite a few different edge lined Bibles over the years. Most of them have used something other than the same leather that was on the outside of the the Bible. They use bonded leather, or some kind of synthetic polyurethane material. The bonded leather concerns me because it is basically made from leather sawdust and glue. The inner liner is also what makes the hinge on an edge lined Bible. The repetitive opening and closing, over a long period of time, might cause the bonded leather to come apart. The synthetics could stretch out of shape, or deteriorate at a different rate than the natural materials.
This Bible uses top grain cowhide leather for both the inner and outer cover. Using the same materials ensures a uniform wear throughout. The leather that Crossway chose for this Bible is not soft. It doesn’t feel like it will snag and scratch easily like some of the goatskin leather covers. What is the purpose of the cover after all? It is to protect the text block and provide structure. The cover on this Bible is very flexible, don’t get me wrong, but if you are looking for something soft like garment leather, you are looking in the wrong place.
The size of this Bible is another subjective quality. Everyone has their own favorite size of Bible to read from. I personally like smaller, personal sized Bibles, but I loathe the small font in most of them. This Thinline is truly a Thinline Bible. It measures in at approximately 3/4″ thick.
This fact necessitates thinner paper and smaller font. In most Bibles that translates to readability issues. Not so much in this one. Since Crossway always uses impeccable paper, and they employed an 8 pt. font, this Bible is very legible.
The size of this Heirloom Thinline lends itself to being held in several different ways to suite your comfort. I prefer to fold one side over and hold it in one hand. Other people might hold it at the bottom center. While others might prefer to hold it in both hands, or rest it on the table. Since the binding is sewn it will lay flat.
The hinge plays a big part in how the Bible opens and lays when being read. On top of having a sewn spine, Crossway didn’t go hog wild with the binding tape. Many of your lower priced premium Bibles that are edge lined, employ a lot of binding tape, that is thick and covered in adhesive. They use it along the hinge of the Bible to join the cover and text block. Sometimes they use way too much, or too thick of a binding tape that actually makes what should be a very flexible Bible into a very awkward one. The rest of the cover and text block could be nice and flexible, but the inch or inch and a half or so, right at the hinge is all rigid and thick. It pretty much negates the purpose of doing an edge lined binding. They might as well simply just have done a case bound Bible instead.
Since Crossway did the right thing here by not using too thick a gooey binding tape in the hinge, and instead used the real leather liner, they avoid problems with adhesion and can make a nice durable and flexible hinge.(albeit not so flexible right out of the box) The hinge will take a bit of breaking in, because it is made of leather, but it should last much longer.
The leather hinge might take a bit more work, but that is why you pay a premium price. This Bible is made to outlast you. Many Bibles come with a lifetime warranty, and the publishers never expect you to use them, while fully expecting the Bible to fall apart in a few years. The Heirloom Thinline ESV from Crossway will not. It is called, “Heirloom” for a reason. It will hold up and become a family heirloom. I love the idea of having a Bible passed down to me or one that I can pass down to my children. There is a tremendous sense of a family Christian heritage that can be gifted to the next generations. All it takes on our part is an effort to do better, to make better Bibles, and to show our kids how much God’s word really means to us.(You don’t have to have a premium Bible to do that so don’t feel bad if you can’t justify the expenditure. Crossway makes durable Bibles in all price ranges.)
The ESV Heirloom Thinline Bible in brown calfskin leather arrived at my home in perfect condition. It was packaged in a white cardboard box for shipping.
Inside the shipping box, the Bible was inside a black, two piece, presentation box, that should be retained for storage, should you ever put this Bible away for a while.
The Heirloom is also wrapped in paper. I believe that was done to protect it, as the hide cover is more flexible and has a larger yap than other Bibles.
Another nice feature is the perimeter stitching of the cover. Some people don’t like this, but I do. I like to know there is more than just glue holding the cover together.
It is evident when you examine the inside cover at the corners that Crossway did an excellent job paring the leather down thin enough to make a nice corner. The perimeter stitching can also be seen well from the inside.
There is also an attractive looking gold gilt line around the perimeter of the inner cover.
Usually on thin Bibles they don’t bother rounding the spine. On the Heirloom it appears they rounded the spine and the page corners. I think that shows a bit more attention to quality. So does the art gilt page edges. Extra attention to details and added features are what we’ve come to expect from Crossway’s premium models.
The front and back, outside covers are blank. The inside back cover has, “calfskin leather” printed on it at the bottom.
The spine is decorated with 6 spine hub lines, and the words, “Holy Bible” at the head, “ESV” under that, the ESV logo towards the middle, “English Standard Version” and then the Crossway logo at the tail, in gold stamping.
When you open the Bible up, you’ll notice there is a page that is glued part of the way up. That is to keep the text block and cover from falling apart.
In the front of this Bible is a Presentation page,
On the copyright page you’ll notice that this Bible is not printed in China. It is printed in the Netherlands, by Jongbloed. (not indicated, but verified.) Jongbloed is the premier Bible bindery and printer. They are the the people you go to if you want to print a top notch premium Bible. That is why Crossway used them to print their Heirloom Thinline. This is the 2011 ESV. After that you’ll notice a Table of Contents, List of the books in alphabetical order, Preface, and Features section.
The Books of the Bible begin with the name of the book in bold large print at the head of the page aligned to the center. The text is laid out in a double column, paragraph format, with foot notes. The section headings are also in bold. The chapter numbers are in drop cap to set them apart. Page numbers are found at the top, center part of the page.
The Heirloom Thinline also comes with head and tail bands, and two ribbon markers that match the color of the cover.
This Bible is a black letter edition with 8 pt. Lexicon font. It is printed uniformly with sharp contrast against the 28 g.s.m. PDL Indopaque European Bible paper. The paper has an opacity rating of 79 which is pretty good considering the weight of the paper.
In the back you’ll find, Weights and Measures, Abbreviations, Concordance, and Maps. The concordance is a three column format and pretty decent for a thinline edition.
In the back there are 8 color maps.
Here are some pictures highlighting the flexibility of this Bible.
There is no reason this Bible should wear out in your lifetime, but if it does fail due to materials or workmanship, it has a lifetime warranty from Crossway. I doubt you’ll have to use it. This is a high quality, premium Bible. The cover is flexible and so is the text block, due to the sewn spine. Whether you are holding it, or reading it while it lays on a desk or table you won’t have to fight against the cover. (after the hinge is broken in.) It is comfortable to hold due to it’s size and weight. The font is big enough to read without undue eyestrain. The opacity of the paper aids in the legibility as well. The bottom line, if you are looking for a high quality, edge lined, thinline Bible look no more. You can pick up a copy direct from Crossway, or purchase one from any of these online retailers, Amazon, Christianbook, or Evangelicalbible. Make sure to check out the rest of the pictures on my Flickr page.