A Review of the Hendrickson 1611 Edition King James Version Bible with Apocrypha, in Black Genuine Leather, Hardback.

The 1611 KJV edition is not a true facsimile edition. It is a modern printing of a 19th century typeset that changed the font from Gothic to Roman. It is still in early Modern English. Here is what Hendrickson has to say about it on their product information page,

“For 400 years, the Authorized Version of the Bible—popularly known as the King James Version—has been beloved for its majestic phrasing and stately cadences. No other book has so profoundly influenced our language and our theology. Over time, however, the text has suffered subtle and occasionally troublesome alterations. This edition preserves the original 1611 printing. Word for word and page for page, the text with its original marginal notes, preface, and other introductory material appears as it first did. The sole concession to modernity is a far more readable roman typeface set by nineteenth-century master printers.

“A valuable and essential addition to every Bible library.”

—John R. Kohlenberger III”

Here is a list of features from their page as well,

“FEATURES

• Original preface and translators’ notes

• Alfred Pollard’s classic essay on pre-1611 English translations and the history of the Authorized Version

• New essays on the enduring impact of the KJV and the Apocrypha

• Handsome page design with decorative initials

• Page-edge gilding and ribbon marker (genuine leather only)

• Clear type is convenient to read and reference

• Special logo on book spine and packaging commemorates the 400th Anniversary

• Includes the Apocrypha”

I was curious about the quality of the leather when I requested this Bible for review. I wondered what they were going to use. I was also curious about how and where they would have it printed and bound. I thought, “Perhaps because this is an anniversary edition they will give it special treatment? Surely for the steep price it has to be better built than some of the lesser Bibles I’ve seen recently.” Well, I was let down. When I opened the cardboard shipping box I was presented with a nice looking retail box.
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I was hopeful it contained something well done. I opened the retail box hoping to smell leather. Nope! No pleasing leather aroma. That is not to say that the cover is not genuine leather. It most likely is. Hendrickson says that it is. That being the case, the only way they can consider it genuine leather is if it is pigskin leather. Pigskin leather is the cheapest, stiffest, thinnest, leather you can get. Any cheaper and they would be using bonded leather or synthetic covers. The leather covers hardback book boards. There is a nice looking cross decoration on the front cover. It is not tooled leather.

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The next thing that struck me was the excessively wavy page edges. It looks as if when the text block was trimmed they used a dull blade or when they were finishing the text block they had a machine problem. I don’t know for sure. I have also noticed a reviewer on a large retail site had the same problem.

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After noticing these two very big disappointments, I concluded that this must have been made in China. I opened it up. I looked for the publisher information page and confirmed my suspicions.

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I really hope the publishers of Bibles realize they are dealing with God’s word, not just a retail product.

Those were the two biggest gripes I had about this Bible as far as obvious design and construction goes. I can’t criticize the typeset or layout as it is dictated by the 19th century typeset they chose to utilize. I know some have complained the font to be small. It is a bit on the small side, but overall, not bad.

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You have to remember what you are dealing with, an old typeset and layout, which includes the Apocrypha.
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If you aren’t familiar with it, don’t feel bad. Most people have no idea what it is. It is a collection of non-canonical books the early Church used might have used (kind of like how we use other books in our studies) We don’t use them, because they aren’t inspired. If you are looking for a modern paragraph format Bible with side column references, then buy a modern Bible… That should go without saying. Alas, people are very indiscriminate when shopping sometimes. They can also be woefully ignorant about what they are buying. That is one of the main reasons I write these reviews. ￿ I hope to help shoppers find the perfect Bible for them. Then they can go out and purchase confidently without apprehension.

I opened the case bound Bible to see that even though it isn’t the quality I hoped for, they did at least do a decent job pasting down the corners and the end pages.
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The paper and printing are next. The paper reminded me of cheap newsprint paper in color and texture.
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It was a bit smoother and higher quality than newsprint, but definitely not up the standards of Hendrickson’s competition. The Spine of the Bible was rounded, which is a good thing.
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The binding is sewn, giving it the ability to open flat and stay that way while reading it. The page edges were gilt, even if they were warped like a Ruffle’s potato chip. The ribbon markers were decent.
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There are decorative head and tail bands. The print seemed consistent, even if it smudged a little. I love some of the Books and Bibles Hendrickson publishes, but this one doesn’t make the cut. If this Bible were only available at the suggested retail price I wouldn’t buy it, but you can pick it up online around the fifty dollar range. In my opinion, even fifty dollars is thirty dollars too much.
To see all the pics make sure to check out my flickr album of this Bible.

KJV Bible–1611 Edition: Genuine Leather, Black

ISBN-13: 9781565631625

Size: 5.25 x 8.25 inches; 8-pt type

Hendrickson’s page

Amazon

Christianbook

A Side by Side Comparison of the Oxford NRSV with the Apocrypha and Book of Common Prayer in Black Genuine Leather, to the Cambridge KJV with the Book of Common Prayer in Purple Calfsplit Leather.

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You can look at all of the pictures on my Flickr page. Here is the link for the Cambridge album.  Here is the link for the Oxford album.  I received both Bibles undamaged. They were packed in their own cardboard boxes and were inside retail boxes that were both sturdy enough to be used for storing the Bible in when on the shelf.

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Upon opening the boxes I was impressed with the purple color of the Cambridge Bible. The Cambridge cover was also more supple out of the box. This is due to the Cambridge being covered in calfsplit leather which is split cowhide leather as opposed to the Oxford’s cover which was your typical pigskin leather. The Oxford was ornamented with a gold stamped cross on the front cover as well as a gilt line around the inside perimeter of the cover. Both covers have a perimeter groove pressed into them.

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The Cambridge and the Oxford alike have gold gilt page edges. I thought the two purple ribbon markers were attractive. The Oxford has three yellow/gold ribbon markers that were pretty nice even if they were a bit more narrow. I would have liked to see three ribbon markers in the Cambridge because of the added BCP.

Here is the Cambridge

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Here is the Oxford

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The Oxford was surprisingly smaller than the Cambridge even though it had the Apocrypha and the Cambridge did not. Due to all of the added text there had to be a compromise. I don’t think it was a very wise one. The Biblical text in the NRSV is very small. At 6 pt. it is still legibly printed, but does present a strain for longer reading. I think it would be fine for carrying to Church as long as you bring your reading glasses. If you do have poor vision I would not recommend this Bible for the Bible portion.

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The BCP is perfectly legible being printed in 8 pt. font.

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The Cambridge suffers from the same problem albeit not of necessity in my opinion. Of course I am not privy to all design constraints and I am certain there are reasons for making the Biblical text 6 pt. and the BCP text a very generous 11 pt. I would have liked to see the BCP down to 8 pt. and the KJV up to 8 pt. I think that could have been achieved.

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Both Bibles have sewn bindings and are case bound. The Cambridge is printed and bound in Italy by L.E.G.O. SpA. Vicenza. It is the KJV Pitt Minion, Reference Second Edition setting.

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That would be a double column, paragraph format layout with references in the center column. The small 6.75 pt. font is clearly and uniformly printed on very good and opaque Bible paper.
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The Book of Common Prayer is mostly single column format. It is printed in large 11 pt. font making it easy to read. It is also printed to the same standards as the rest of the text.

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Both Bibles were designed and had their layouts done by Blue Heron Bookcraft in Battleground Washington.

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When we compare the two Bibles there are some big differences in quality. The Korean printed and bound Oxford uses a less opaque paper that tends to wrinkle, while the Cambridge is very smooth.

Here is the Oxford

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Here is the Cambridge

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The print in the Oxford is not as well inked as the Cambridge. The Oxford is a double column paragraph format with very limited footnotes. It is the NRSV translation. Both Bibles are black letter editions.

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The Oxford does have some gold colored and heavily textured papers utilized for the presentation and family records pages. They look nice, but can be a chore to write on contrasted to the typical Cambridge presentation pages.

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The Book of Common Prayer is mostly single column and printed with large 8 pt. font.

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The Apocrypha is printed the same as the Biblical text.

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Neither have maps or helps in the back. The Cambridge has, “Common Prayer” at the top, “Holy Bible” in the middle and, the Cambridge logo at the foot of the spine stamped in gold. The Oxford has, “The Book of Common Prayer” at the top and, “The Holy Bible” underlined and, “Apocrypha” immediately under it in the middle, and, “Oxford” at the bottom of the spine.

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The Cambridge is a bit larger in length and width, but they are about the same thickness.

The Oxford might be a hair thicker. Both are aesthetically pleasing and pleasant to hold, however the Cambridge is the winner in the tactilely pleasing category. The calfsplit leather just is so much better than the shiny pigskin leather of the Oxford. I honestly thought the Oxford was bonded leather when I opened it. The head and foot bands on the Oxford were not properly glued down either. For quality of assembly I would have to give the Cambridge the win. Here is a look at the inside covers of both. You can see that they are both case bound.

Here is the Cambridge.

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Here is the Oxford. It has a gilt line around the inside cover.

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The Cambridge is geared more towards Anglicans and the Oxford is geared more for Episcopalians in my opinion. At least after reading much out of the BCP in each one that is my impression. The Cambridge utilizes the 1662 Book of Common Prayer while the Oxford uses 1979 Book of Common Prayer. If you are looking for an in depth list of what both BCP’s include I’m not going to do that, however I do have pictures of the table on contents pages that have those lists. You can see them on my Flickr page. Click here for the first page of the Cambridge Table of contents. Click here for the second page.  Click here for the first page of the Oxford Table of Contents. Click here for the second page.  The Cambridge is almost twice the price of the Oxford, but in my opinion it is worth it. I also like the KJV more than the NRSV. I am neither Anglican nor Episcopalian so I am not biased one way or another towards one of these Bibles. If you must have an Apocrypha in your volume then you would have to go with the Oxford. Both are sturdy and well made. They should provide years of service… as long as your eyes can take the small text. Make sure to visit the links to the Flickr photo album pages for both Bibles so you can get a good close look at all of the features.

If you are interested in purchasing either one here are some links for you,

Cambridge or Amazon or Christianbook

Oxford or Amazon or Christianbook