The search for that perfect Bible. What are the most common Bible features available today? (Part 1, Covers)

DSCN3175It is difficult to find that perfect Bible, but this is where many of us start out. When you finally decide to get a high quality Bible, you want to get all of the features you like in one edition. The problem is that rarely is there one Bible that will satisfy all of your requirements. In this article we are going to look at some of these features, a few of the pros and cons of the features, and a little basic Bible design and layout. Hopefully this will help you make an informed purchase, and keep you from having unrealistic expectations.

I know many people ooh and ah over floppy, natural hide, edge lined covers, but these aren’t always the best Bibles to have. There are also a bunch of folks who have no idea what the difference is between bonded leather, genuine leather, and calf skin leather. So, let’s start off by learning about covers. After all, it is the first part of the Bible a person sees and touches.

The least expensive covers are equivalent to those you’d find on a paperback book. Not much to know here. Some of the pros are that they are inexpensive to mass produce. Usually you find these covers on evangelism Bibles. Perhaps you’ve been handed a Bible with a paperback cover? They are only a couple of bucks to buy, and they get the job done. The biggest con is that they are not durable. They tear and dog-ear very easily.

Hardback covers are next. These types of covers are common and inexpensive like the paperback covers. Everyone should be familiar with them. They are a cardboard sheet known as a book board, that is underneath a paper, cloth, or hide cover. In the past these were often made out of wood. They provide rigidity to the text block so the book can be stored standing on its edge. They also support the pages while you hold them. One of the problems with a rigid board is that if you drop it on a corner it will deform and stay that way. If you do store it on a shelf, as you take off the shelf, and replace it on the shelf, the edge will become worn. Also the text blocks tend to pull away from the book boards over time and require repair.

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Synthetic covers are the next step up. They offer a wide range of appearances and styles. They are also inexpensive to make. They can be made to simulate leather or just about anything else you might cover a book with. They can be made with various designs in them making them very attractive compared to paperback and hardback Bibles. The covers don’t stand up to skin oils, sunlight, and other environmental hazards like being scratched or scraped when compared to the durability of a good quality hide cover. They also lack the smell and texture of real leather.

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Bonded leather used to be one of the most common inexpensive covers before the rise of synthetic covers. I would just like to say, there are no pros to bonded leather… Ok fine, maybe they were not as expensive as a genuine leather cover, but come on! They are basically leather sawdust and scraps, bonded together with adhesive and dye, and then they have a fake leather grain stamped into them. They are generally not very flexible either. They are more durable than paper or had back. They are even more scratch and scuff resistant than synthetic covers, but when the surface is compromised, the oils and salts from your skin will sink in and make the damage worse. It will swell, and flake apart where the crease or cut is. There is a new bonded leather called Cromwell bonded leather that is supposed to be a very durable, long lasting bonded leather. I’ve just never liked the feel or smell of the bonded leather covers.

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Now for the genuine leather covers, but wait, all is not as it seems! You might think that if it is labeled, “Genuine Leather” that it is cow leather, but you’d be wrong! Oh no my friends, don’t be deceived by this clever marketing. Many of the bibles sold in the $40-$80 range listed as genuine leather are actually… pig skin leather. Yep, pig skin leather is much less expensive than cowhide leather. It is split thinner, it is colored, and gets a grain stamped into it, and it is shiny like plastic, and not that flexible. These covers are pretty tough though. I have to give that to them. They don’t smell as good as cowhide leather either due to all the processing they go through. Because the pig skin is so tough they can use very very thin splits of it.

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Just under the premium category of covers are the calfsplit leather, French Morocco leather, and genuine cowhide leather covers. There is not a market standard on this so there is quite a bit of variance from publisher to publisher. For instance a cowhide leather cover from TBS feels like the French Morocco leather from Cambridge. Basically they take the section under the top grain and stamp a grain pattern into it. It is stiffer and more fibrous, but still smells like cowhide leather because it is. You get all of the great durability of a good cowhide leather cover at a lower price. Honestly this is probably the lowest quality leather I would want on a Bible. All of the others I mentioned before this I would not buy for myself. I expect a Bible to be something I can hand down to my kids and hopefully my grandkids. I won’t buy anything under this. I recommend shopping calfsplit/genuine cowhide and above. French Morocco leather doesn’t necessarily have to be from a cow either. It is also split thinner typically than calfsplit. Don’t get French Morocco mixed up with Moroccan either. Moroccan leather is much higher quality goatskins from Nigeria that are imported and finished in Europe.

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The next class of covers is the premium range. It includes top grain cowhide, calf hide, Vachetta calfskin, Buttero calfskin, and goatskin. There are other hides that are available from rebinders and are occasionally available from publishers. I am not going to address those as they are not commonly available from mass produced Bibles from major publishers.

The top grain cowhides can have natural grain, they can be ironed flat to reduce the grain, they are generally tough and supple, which is a good combination. Calfskin is even softer because it is taken from well, young cows. It is also a bit thinner. It isn’t as resistant to scratches and scuffs as the top grain cowhide. All of these leathers take color during processing very well.  Goatskin covers usually have a nicely pebbled grain to them making them aesthetically pleasing.  They can be dyed in a wide range of colors, are supple, durable, and more expensive.  You don’t get as many covers out of a goat hide.  Goats are smaller than cows 🙂   

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Keep in mind this is just about covers.  The next article will be about the difference between case bound and edge lined Bibles.  Thanks again for reading, and if you haven’t already make sure to follow my blog.  God bless!

A Thinline Bible that Will Outlast You, the Crossway E.S.V. Thinline Bible , Heirloom Edition in Brown Cowhide Edge Lined Leather.

 

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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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There is also an attractive looking gold gilt line around the perimeter of the inner cover.
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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.
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The front and back, outside covers are blank. The inside back cover has, “calfskin leather” printed on it at the bottom.
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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.
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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.

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In the front of this Bible is a Presentation page,

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Marriages, Births/Adoptions,

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and Deaths.

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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.

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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.

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The Heirloom Thinline also comes with head and tail bands, and two ribbon markers that match the color of the cover.

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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.
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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.

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In the back there are 8 color maps.

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Here are some pictures highlighting the flexibility of this Bible.

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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.

ISBN-13: 9781433541602

 

 

A Review of the Local Church Bible Publishers Hand Size Text Bible in Black 1 piece Ironed Calfskin Leather, the Item #: 180E1B.

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I know many of you haven’t heard of Local Church Bible Publishers, or LCBP.  I would like to remedy that problem for you.  I say that it is a problem because you are missing out on a very well made Bible.  The only caveat is that you must be a fan of the Authorized Version of the King James.  LCBP only prints KJV Bibles.  If that is not a problem for you, then you have a good selection of low priced, high quality, edge lined Bibles to choose from.  Usually Bibles of this quality would sell for $100 or more.  These range from the $20 New Testaments up to the $70 Super Giant Print.  Here is a link to their page, Local Church Bible Publishers

The 180E1B is the 180 Hand Size, Text Bible in the Executive line, with a one piece cover, in black ironed calfskin leather.  When closed, it measures 6″ x 8.5″ x 1.5″ It is an attractive looking Bible.  The grain has been ironed out of it.

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It is smooth and flexible.  There are decorative spine hubs and gold gilt page edges.  On the spine is written, “Holy Bible” at the head, “Authorized King James” at the middle, and, “Church” at the tail.

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There are decorative gold and black, head and tail bands.  It comes with two, black ribbon markers.

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There is a perimeter line on the cover.  The cover is perimeter stitched to the inside liner.

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The Bible is edge lined and smyth-sewn, making it very durable and flexible.  You would not get this quality without spending much more.  LCBP Bibles are an extremely good value.

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When you open this Bible you first see some blank pages made from a heavier card stock, then the presentation page, and the family records pages.  Then the Title page as well as the Preface to the King James Version 1611, “THE TRANSLATORS TO THE READER.”  We then get into the meat of the Bible.  It is laid out in a double column, verse format, with a line separating the columns.  This is a text Bible so there are no cross-references or footnotes.  It is also a black letter edition that utilizes the self-pronouncing text in a 10.5 pt medium font.  It looks like an old typesetting of the text.  The font is not sharply printed like modern methods would produce.  It is well inked and dark.  The paper makes up for the font.  It is very opaque and heavy.

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If I could only get this Bible in NASB I’d be happy.  I know the people at LCBP would not like that last bit 🙂  There is a robust 197 page concordance in the back as well as some blank sheets for note taking.  There are six maps printed on the same cardstock paper as were in the front of the Bible.
If you are in the market for an AV KJV Bible that will outlast you,  and don’t want to spend a bunch give LCBP a look.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  Make sure to check out all the pictures of this Bible on my Flickr page.

The Holman HCSB Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible in Black Genuine Cowhide Leather is a Wonderful Demonstration of How High Quality Bibles Can be Made in America for a Very Affordable Price.

DSCN4304Yes, it is true! We can still make high quality Bibles here in America, and they are affordable! I’m not saying this is a cheap Bible by any means, far from it. It is a high quality Bible. I will go over all of the features later in the review. This Bible sells for around $80.00 online. Even if they sold it for the suggested retail price of almost $120.00 it would be worth it. So to all of my patriotic friends, “‘MericA!” The Holman HCSB Large Print Ultratin Reference Bible showed up on my doorstep well protected inside an appropriately sized cardboard box padded with paper.   DSCN4302

The two piece retail box is sturdy and should be retained for storage. The Bible was wrapped in black paper to further protect the black genuine cowhide leather cover.

DSCN4308I’ve read some other reviews of this Bible and much ado was made over the cover’s softness. I’ll admit that is the main reason I wanted to review this for myself. Although, it is a very nice cover, I wouldn’t call it the softest or most supple cover I’ve ever seen. Considering that soft does not always equate to good, don’t let my mention of that stop you from getting this Bible. I quite like that it isn’t as soft as what I was reading on other sites. For instance, I have an R. L. Allan Readers in goatskin leather. It is nothing like the goatskin I have on a Cambridge Clarion Bible. The Allan was thick and tough compared to the Cambridge. When you get into Bibles, one of the first things that gets you going is that there are Bibles out there with very soft covers. This new excitement wears thin after a while. After using Bibles with super supple covers for a while you begin to notice some drawbacks. Super supple covers or ssc’s for short, do enhance the flexibility of a quality edge lined, sewn binding. What you’ll notice though is that you will begin a tendency to bend your Bible in ways that are not conducive to a long useful binding life. You’ll also become annoyed at your Bible flopping around at inconvenient times. If you have a larger Bible that is ssc it will become more difficult to sit and read as you have to support it someway. The ssc’s also are more susceptible to scratches, and abrasions. The cover can flop away from the pages and leave your pages unprotected. I don’t know how many more dog eared pages I’ve gotten solely due to the ssc. There is a happy medium, thank goodness. I think that this Bible fits in that category very well. The genuine cowhide leather cover IS supple, but not too supple.   DSCN4309

DSCN4310  It is coupled with a case bound text block instead of an edge lined one.   DSCN4314

This also keeps it from being excessively flexible, without too rigid.

DSCN4346  The cover offers just the right amount of support and protection. When I open it to read from it, I can read both the left and right pages while holding the Bible in one hand, without one of them folding over so it can’t be read. With an ssc you can’t do this. With a rigid cover you are fighting the cover, constantly trying to keep it down and out of the way. This Bible is just right in that regard. When I took it out of the box and the paper it was wrapped in, I didn’t notice any chemical smells, just the smell of leather, as it should be. It felt good in my hands. The spine wasn’t too thick or thin. It is manageable in size at 9.75″ x 6.75″ x 1.25″ The texture of the leather’s grain is natural and pleasing to the touch. The spine is decorated with 6 raised hubs. At the head of the spine is the Holman sword and shield logo with, “HCSB” under it. In the middle of the spine are the words, “Holy Bible.” At the foot you’ll see, “Large Print Ultrathin Reference Edition” with the Holman logo beneath it.   DSCN4312

It has gold gilt page edges rounded corners and a slightly rounded spine. The signatures are fairly large. I think this is what accounted for some pretty dramatic looking page waves when I first took this Bible out to use.

DSCN4325  The good news is that those wrinkles you see in the pictures went away after a day of being out of the box and packaging. With just light use everything kind of balanced out. For some reason the pictures made the problem look worse than what it was. Since this Bible has a lifetime warranty through Holman, if you received one with this problem I am certain they would take it back and do what they needed to do to make sure you were happy. I just used it for a little while and it got much better. In the front of the Bible there is a Presentation page. Then there are record pages for Marriage Certificate, Births, Marriages, Occasions to Remember, and Deaths. After the records pages there is the Title page, copyright/publisher’s page, Table of Contents, God’s Plan for Salvation, Introduction to the HCSB translation and finally the text of the Old Testament starts.   DSCN4327

The paper is white enough to offer good contrast with the sharply printed modern digital 9 pt. font. The layout and typesetting was done by 2Krogh AS, Hojbjerg, Denmark and proofreading by Peachtree Editorial Services in Peachtree City Georgia. This Bible uses the 2009 Updated HCSB and cross references.

DSCN4335  This is a red letter edition. It is a double column, paragraph format Bible with center column references and footnotes at the bottom.   DSCN4344

In the footnotes there are alternate readings or notes on textual variants that is quite helpful.

DSCN4343  All of these features lend themselves to a highly legible text. It is easy on the eyes and will be a pleasure to use. The book names and chapter numbers are on the bottom of the page instead of the top along with the page numbers.   DSCN4334

If you are holding this Bible in your hand or lap while reading from a chair this makes more sense. If you are leaning over this Bible reading it at a table or desk the placement of that information can be less convenient. It is not the conventional way to do it, but that is not necessarily bad. There are two ribbon markers for your daily reading in the Old and New Testaments.
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There is a concordance, eight full-color maps, and HCSB Bullet Notes in the back of this Bible. Overall, I have been pleasantly surprised lately by the quality and value of Holman Bibles I’ve been sent for review. I am actually beginning to expect this level of quality and value from Holman. Because of their work and the fact that we can have a domestically produced Bible of quality and value, I am expecting more from other Bible publishers. This is good for Holman, it might be painful to other publishers, but they can look at it as a negative and stop sending me Bibles to review like some have, or they can pick up the challenge and step up their game. Make sure to check out the rest of the pics I took of this Bible here.

ISBN-13: 9781433603020

A Review of the Trinitarian Bible Society’s KJV Pocket Reference Bible with Metrical Psalms in Black Calfskin Leather PS7U/BK

DSCN4039  According to the Trinitarian Bible Society’s website the Pocket Reference Bible is, “The complete practical choice of Bible for carrying in pocket or handbag. Wide selection including camouflage for armed forces, vinyl, and quality leather. With button snap and zip options.” If you aren’t aware, “T.B.S.” stands for, “Trinitarian Bible Society” not at all related to the horrible cable television station with the same initials. TBS is located in London, England. They are a ministry that produces good quality and value AV KJV Bibles for circulation for the glory of God. Since they are a ministry, they have very good prices. They have kindly sent me a copy of the Pocket Reference Bible with Metrical Psalms in calfskin leather for review on my blog. This TBS Bible is approaching the smallest, usable size a Bible can be. It is 5.2″ x 3.6″ with 6 point font. Let’s just say that, you would have to have very good eyes, or a very good optometrist. That being said, if you are a fan of the Pitt Minion typesetting and are looking for the smallest, compact Bible you can read, covered with genuine calf split or in TBS’s words, “calfskin leather”, with zipper and metrical Psalms, then your search is over. Not a fan of the Pitt Minion? Love the Royal Ruby text typesetting? TBS has you covered with their Royal Ruby Text Bible with Metrical Psalms covered with the same calfskin and in addition, thumb indexes and zipper enclosure. It is a hair larger and the font is 6.5 pt. in size. You can read my review of the older edition here. The Pocket Reference Bible arrived undamaged and carefully packed in a good size cardboard box with packing material.   DSCN4037

Inside the box, the Bible was in its retail packaging which is a heavy cardboard slipcase wrapped in clear plastic.

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Upon removing it from the packaging I observed that the zipper is a smooth operating nylon zipper. It is flexible and quieter than a brass zipper.

DSCN4046  I unzipped the cover and looked at the inside cover first. It is a case bound Bible so the inner liner is a vinyl that is paper backed and glued to the calfskin and end papers of the text block. The corners of the cover are not easily seen as they are covered by the zipper material that is sewn to the perimeter of the cover, making the cover perimeter stitched. There are read and gold head and tail bands decorating the Pocket Reference.   DSCN4061

The first page is a presentation page.

DSCN4048  You can fill this out and gift this Bible. The person receiving it from you will be sure to remember the occasion. After the presentation page is a few blank card paper pages made of the same paper the presentation page is made from. You can also see some of the thread from the binding.   DSCN4049

You’ll notice on the bottom of the copyright page with the publisher information that this Bible is printed in Belarus.

DSCN4076  I don’t know much about Belarus except it is a small former soviet country near Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. I know TBS in the past has used a printer there. It would be interesting to know more about this. I think I will ask them next time we correspond. As you keep turning pages you notice, The Epistle Dedicatory and the List of pronunciation of words and proper names. The text of this Bible is a double column verse format with references in the center column in black text edition. (Pitt Minion Reduced)   DSCN4050
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It utilizes Bible paper and has all edge gilt. There are two black ribbon markers for your daily readings from Old and New Testaments. In the back of the Bible you have A Bible Word List and Reading Plan. Then you’ll find the Psalms in metre.

The Pocket Reference is the winner in portability. Not just because it is very small and thin, or that you could zip its semi-yap cover closed, put it in your pocket and charge off to wherever you need to be, without damaging the pages. Nor is it the winner because it is a complete Bible or even that it includes references. Not even the fact that it is sturdily constructed out of good quality materials or the smyth-sewn binding, or that it should stand up to a mobile life quite well. It is that fact that all of these features are all together in this tiny package that make it the winner. Since it uses the familiar Pitt Minion typeset all of the elements are where you would expect them to be like, page numbers, book names, and chapter numbers, so on.

Be sure to check out all of the pictures I took of this Bible on my flickr page.

You can purchase your own from TBS directly here, Pocket Reference Bible with Metrical Psalms (calfskin) ISBN 9781862282728 PS7U/BK (Black) Page Size: 5.2″ x 3.6″ Thickness: 0.8″ Print Size: 6 point

Cambridge Pitt Minions, a Tale of Three Covers.

Comparison Review of Morocco, Calf Split, and Goatskin Leather Covered Pitt Minion NASB Bibles.

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I’m fortunate to have been sent review copies of the same Bible, covered in three types of leather that Cambridge uses. They have sent me three Cambridge Pitt Minions in NASB Bibles. One of them is covered in black Morocco leather, another in black calf split leather, and the last one is covered in brown goatskin leather.

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This review will depart from my other reviews in that I am not covering the same points over again. You can read about the Pitt Minion typeset and binding information here. Instead, I am going to compare the different types of leather covers. You can view the Cambridge page with information about their leathers here.
Here is their definition of what Morocco leather is, “Leather taken from a split hide – sheepskin, calf or cowhide. Slightly thinner than the other grades of leather and therefore relatively flexible and soft even when new. A French Morocco binding offers high-quality real leather at an economical price.” This is the cover material for the lowest priced Pitt Minion at approximately $60.00 available at online retailers.

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Here is their definition of what calf split leather is, “A superior grade to French Morocco leather, tanned to approach the quality and feel of full-grain calfskin leather.” This is the next step up from the Morocco leather and can be purchased for about $80.00 online.

calf split

Finally, here is their definition of goatskin leather, “A beautiful and very resilient top-quality, natural grain leather. Traditionally known as ‘Morocco’ leather, it is strong yet supple and is used in the finest bindings.

The best goatskins for bookbinding come from an area of northern Nigeria where environmental conditions are ideal for producing hides with the necessary balance of strength and suppleness. Here they are partially tanned using the same vegetable materials and methods that have been used for several thousand years. Traditionally, they were transported by camel across the Sahara desert to merchants in Morocco (hence the term ‘Morocco leather’) from where they would be distributed throughout the ancient world.

Cambridge uses Nigerian goatskins finished in the United Kingdom for our top-of-the range bindings.”

I understand there can be some confusion when talking about cover materials. There really isn’t a standardized nomenclature. I hope this information clears it up for anyone with questions as to why the Morocco covers were more expensive than the calf split covers. I know I’ve been asked this question before. I’ve included plenty of pictures and a video to help you see as much of the differences for yourselves, but I have to tell you, only by handling these Bibles will you be able to appreciate the qualities of each one. All three are wonderful Bibles and offer specific benefits. The price of the Morocco covered Pitt Minion makes it exceedingly affordable. You get all of the great features of the Cambridge Pitt Minion text block, like the sewn binding, thin profile, compact size, complete Bible, clearly printed modern digital font, references, and red letter text. This cover has a bit of a glossy look to it and the grain is not pebbled. It is also quite a bit thinner than the other two. However, it is vastly superior to other Bibles on the market that advertise having, “genuine leather” covers. Many of the lower quality Bibles that claim to be genuine leather are covered in split pigskin leather with an artificial grain pressed into it. They almost look plastic and are very shiny. This Morocco cover is much better and the price has remained very affordable.

For just about $20.00 more you can get the calf split leather, again with all of the great Pitt Minion features, plus a more supple, thicker, leather with a deeper natural texture. The calf split is also less shiny or glossy than the Morocco cover. This gives it a much more tactilely pleasing feel in your hand. I’ve also noticed that it softens up quite well after it is broken in.

For about $100.00 you can acquire the Pitt Minion covered in goatskin leather.

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I know it seems like a lot of money, but when you pick one up you’ll understand why it is more. The goatskin covers have a finer pebbled grain that is soft to the touch. It is softer than the calf split or top grain leathers while remaining durable.

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If you have ever held a sheepskin leather Bible you would find that it is very supple, but susceptible to scratches and tears. The goatskin is great because it has the best features of both types of leather. It is soft and supple while remaining effective at protecting the text block. None of these three are edge lined so you won’t be doing any, “Bible yoga” with them. I wouldn’t recommend bending them that much regardless. Even if a Bible is flexible enough to bend like you might see some people do online, it isn’t a good idea.

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Over time it will loosen your binding too much and prematurely wear it out.
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No matter what your budget is you can find a Pitt Minion to fit and be assured that it will last long enough for your kids to enjoy if you treat it with respect.

Make sure to check out the rest of the pictures on the flickr page.

You can purchase these Bibles on Amazon, Christianbook, or Cambridge Press.

The Cambridge KJV/RV Interlinear Bible, in Black Calfskin Leather, A Bible you might not have known that you needed.

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The KJV/RV Interlinear is an amazing tool.  For anyone who has had difficulties with the Early Modern English of the KJV, you are not alone.  The Revised Version was the first big translation to come from the Authorized 1611 KJV.  The 1611 KJV was in Early Modern English.  By the late 1800’s English had changed significantly.  On May 6th of 1870, at Canterbury, England, the general assembly of Episcopal clergymen, met and determined to, revise, for public use, the authorized 1611 KJV.  This was notable for a few reasons, my favorite of which is that it was a cooperative effort between British and American theologians, who were experts in the Biblical languages.  Their objective was, “From the outset the object sought by the revisers has been “to adapt King James’ version to the present state of the English language without changing the idiom and vocabulary,” and further, to adapt it to “the present standard of Biblical scholarship.” Since 1611 this latter has made great advances, especially during the last quarter century.”  Here is some information I was given from Cambridge, “A little historical data/background: The Interlinear Bible is really two Bibles in one. It combines the King James Version of 1611 with its first authorized successor, the Revised Version of 1885. This edition includes the highly respected cross-references from the Revised Version, which are considered to be among the finest ever produced. It also carries the footnotes from both versions, giving at times four different renderings of difficult passages.”

A little later in 1901 American theologians made a few more revisions to come up with the American Standard Version.  This translation of course is where we get my favorite translation the New American Standard Bible.  For all of the NASB fans out there, be glad this work was done.

When you have an interlinear Bible usually the texts are run linearly parallel with one as the superscript and the other in subscript.  When you have a parallel Bible usually there will be at least two columns of text, where one column is a translation and the other in the column running parallel to it side by side.  This gives the reader an easy way to compare the two translations.  This Bible however, is unique to my knowledge.  Where the two translations are the same you will see only one line of text.  Where they are different from one another the text will be more like an interlinear.  The Revised version text when different from the KJV will be written in superscript and the KJV will be in subscript.  It looks like this.

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When there are a lot of differences, in a short space, it can get a little confusing, or distracting to read.  This doesn’t happen very often.  I find that this method, with these two specific translations, works quite well.  When I come to a difficult section in the text, I have the RV to look at.  It does help.  Another attribute of this type of interlinear is that it avoids the bulk usually associated with parallel Bibles and other interlinear Bibles.  Most interlinear Bibles have both texts in their entirety.  This one only becomes interlinear when the text is divergent.  This cuts down on the space needed.

It is a nice addition to any Bible collection, and for modern application, it makes the KJV more accessible, without losing the old world style of the KJV.  Granted, there are more modern translations, and there are modern parallels, but they do make you aware that you are reading a modern translation.  So if you love the KJV, but sometimes have difficulties with it, and you love the way the English language sounded then, this is a Bible you should own.

Aesthetically, this is a very nice Bible to look at.  Cambridge has a good reputation for producing high quality Bibles that will last longer than you will.  This Bible came packaged in a cardboard box.  It arrived at my house undamaged and in good condition.

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It was inside of a clamshell designed retail box that should be retained for storage.

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The KJV/RV Interlinear is not a small Bible.  It is about the size of my NASB, MacArthur Study Bible.  The Cambridge is covered in very nice black calfskin.  The cover is obviously, leather.  There is no shiny, artificial look to it.  It doesn’t feel hard, and slick, like the cheaper, pig skin leather covers on lesser Bibles.  The leather smell also reinforces in your mind that this is not a synthetic cover or overly processed leather.

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The binding is smyth-sewn.  The Bible is case bound.  The inner cover is lined with a black vinyl adhered to it.  The corners are nicely cut and glued.

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The cover is stamped with, “Holy Bible” in gold.  The spine also is stamped in gold with, “The Interlinear Bible” at the top, “King James Version” under it, and “Revised Version” under that.  On the bottom is the Cambridge logo with the word, “Cambridge” under it.

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The page edges are art-gilt.   The red under gold gives the page edges a warm look, when the Bible is open.

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There are decorative red and gold, head and tail bands.

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The two black ribbon markers are higher quality than you would find in cheap, mass produced Bibles.

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I know some people complain about page corners curling with some Cambridge Bibles like the Clarion.  When I first opened this Bible, the paper did seem a bit wrinkled and the page corners curled just a bit.

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After being out of the box and giving this Bible a while to come to a state of homeostasis with the dry Idaho air, the page edges flattened out and the wrinkles went away.  I do wish I had waited a while to take the pictures.  The paper is behaving much better now that the Bible has been opened for a while.  I personally, like the page corners to curl up just a bit.  Have you ever tried to get the pages apart to turn them, on a Bible with very thin paper, only to be frustrated page after page?  There you have it; I made a negative quality into a positive feature.  Now don’t get me wrong, I hate it when the entire page edge curls up, and interferes with my reading, but let’s not get too crazy with our demands.  After all, the paper on this Bible is very nice.  It has wide margins and is thick enough to take notes on.  The margins are about an inch.

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It is also a pleasant off white color that contrast well against the dark, 10/11 point Millers 2n Small Pica No.4 (small body) typeface.  It does look like an older typeset, but unlike some of the very old ones it has held up pretty good.  It is also a larger size which helps.  Again, thanks to the way this interlinear is set up.  This is a black text edition.

In the front of the Interlinear you’ll find a presentation page.

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After that, the publication information including that the Interlinear is printed in the Netherlands.  I verified with Cambridge that Jonglboeds did the printing and binding.  They are the premier bindery for Bibles.  You can’t buy better that I know of.

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Then there is some information about the Interlinear and translation information about the KJV and RV.  The Old and New Testaments are both introduced with a Preface.  Usually the older type settings of the KJV are verse format.  This was one of the first editions to use paragraph format.  It does so in a double column layout with center column cross references.  Notes are at the bottom of the page.

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At the end of the Interlinear there is a section called the, “Bible Companion” which is basically a Bible reading plan.  Also there is an alphabetically arranged blank index.  This is great for adding your own notes and references.

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After that we have fifteen color maps, a map index, and a large list of variant readings preferred by the American Standard Version translation committee.  All of this together makes for one highly usable, functional, and handsome Bible.  If you like the majesty of Early Modern English, but need a bit of help from time to time, or if you just like the KJV and the RV because of their rich history, the KJV/RV Interlinear Bible from Cambridge is an excellent addition to any Christians library, even if it is the only book in it.

Be sure to check out the picture gallery at the bottom.

RV655X  isbn: 9781107630932

You can purchase the Cambridge KJV/RV Interlinear in black calfskin on these online retailer’s sites,

Cambridge University Press

Amazon.com

Christianbook.com

Evangelicalbible.com