Tips in Searching for a Quality Made Bible
by Wayne Goforth
The past week I have been searching for a new Bible. I'm really tired of replacing one every 4-5 years, even when they are warranted for life, so I've been researching Bible construction. I already knew I wanted a KJV and a NKJV, but the question was about the construction quality. After spending days on this, I thought I would share results of my findings in hope it might be of benefit to others.
Seems that some of the best quality Bibles are lesser known to most of us, and all printed in England.
- Allan Bibles (recognized as the highest quality constructed Bibles in the world)
- Cambridge (has made Bibles for almost 500 years)
- Trinitarian Bible Society (a KJV only society out of England since 1831)
All three of these have the same "guts" if you would. That is, they all use the same plates for printing, so the layout of the text is the same in all three. Also, all three have the pages double sewn ("Smyth Sewn") rather than glued. You should never have any problems with pages or leaves pulling out. The differences lie in the cover quality, appearance, helps, and translations available. Stitching adds another positive quality... it allows the Bible to lay open flat right out of the box, rather than wanting to close. The popular personal sized Bible in these right now available in these is the "Pitt Minion" style text. It is a 6.75 font with cross reference. Still fairly readable for it's size. Page size is about 5x7. There is also the Concord style, that bumps it up to a 8.5 semi-bold font. VERY legible, almost large print. Page size about 6x8 and about 1/2 inch thicker. Also comes with an array of helps. personally, I am a Bible purist and want center column references as my only help. With Cambridge, for any edition they have the smaller Pitt Minion in, they also have it in a wide margin edition if you like to be able to write notes in, though this is more of a desktop study Bible.
- The Allan Bibles are available in ESV, KJV, NKJV and NIV.
- Cambridge are available in NASB, NIV, ESV, KJV and NKJV.
- Trinitarian Bible Society is a KJV only group and thus only have KJV's available.
Surprisingly, these Bibles are not much more, if any more, expensive than standard Bibles you might find at the book stores, unless your just looking at plain text bibles. And these have their cheap editions too, but even their cheapest paperback editions are sewn! These range in price from $2-$200.
The cheapest I have found for Allan and Cambridge is at Evangelical Bible. They have free FEDEX shipping, lots of pictures and descriptions along with lots of information on translations and Bibles. They beat CBD on their prices, unless you order the "slightly imperfect" from CBD (the "seconds") if they happen to have it in the flavor you want. The Trinitarian Bible Society Bibles can be ordered direct from them. They are the cheapest priced as this is a non-profit group, though the quality is high. In fact, they have two ribbons in their Bibles while Cambridge only one. I have noticed that if you copy the ISBN number from the Trinitarian site and Google it, you might find one or two bookstores carrying that one edition at a cheaper price. They just aren't found many places. One place that carries some of the TBS Bibles cheaper is Popular Christian. They have the Pitt Minion KJV calfskin $7.00 cheaper than buying direct as well as the Concord edition also being cheaper.
Cambridge and TBS have paperback, and vinyl in their low end. TBS has calfskin with vinyl backing available as the only leather I saw, which is a very good, soft supple leather. Cambridge and Allan are available in a variety of leathers, with Allan having the most choices of leathers ranging from French Morocco to Goatskin to their new Buffalo. Cambridge offers "leather" then next in quality is "French Morocco" and their top end is goatskin. Goatskin is wonderfully supple. You might even see spots on the goatskin where the goat got into barbed wire or bitten by an insect, it is pure goatskin, not worked into some fake pattern as most "leathers" are. French Morocco is a decent leather, but is a little misleading. Moroccan leather is supposed to be a kind of goatskin, but French Moroccan is kind of like "rich Corinthian leather"... except that it is still leather, just that it is cow leather that has been worked to make it look like goat. It is still supple and durable. At least with the Cambridge, it does have a cardboard backing to the leather tough which can get creased, but is still a good cover.
New name to me too. This has reference to the amount of leather on the cover that extends beyond the pages. This is to protect the paper from being dirtied by your hands. Though I do not consider it to be attractive, some of the Allan Bibles offers "Full Yap" which means that the leather is long enough, that when you put your hand around it, the leather folds totally over the pages.
Head and Tail Bands
Another new one to me. This is from when books on shelves used to be removed by pulling on the top or bottom binding, back when bindings were good. A hand-sewn example is shown at the right. Both Cambridge and Allan Bibles have such bands.
We all know what gold gilded edges are, but art-gilt is where the edges of the paper are dyed red, then gold foil is melted onto that. Thus the gold looks more orange gold and stays put longer, examples can be seen at the right. Both the upper end Allan's and Cambridge possess that feature.
A good review with pictures is found at Bible Design and Binding. I hope these help you to select your next purchase of a Bible