Here is a page of references, to Bible binding terms to help you when you decide to buy your first, or next Bible. What do all those different names for the Leather, Bindings, Gilt Edges, Full/Semi Yapp Cover mean?. Naturally the better quality the Leather, the longer your Bible will last. The better the back binding (Smythe/Smyth/Smith Sewn is the ultimate) the longer your new Bible will stay together. Glued back bindings will not last very long, if you actually use your Bible.
A beautiful and very durable top quality, natural grain leather. Strong yet supple, it is used for the finest Bible bindings. Traditionally known as Morocco leather. This is the most expensive of Bible bindings, Cambridge Bibles of England (US Dist. Baker Publishing Group), and R. L. Allan Bibles of Scotland (Allan's Bibles–Direct.com) start around $150.00 – $200.00 for Highland Goatskin in a KJV. Cambridge has a U.S. distributor, if you want one. R. L. Allan has a direct order department from Glasgow Scotland, and is a better more economical source than its US distributors. You don't have to question the quality of the Bibles from either of these publisher/dealers, they are absolutely without question the best.
A traditional high-quality leather used in fine Bible bindings. It is long-lasting, and its suppleness increases with use. Cambridge Bible calfskin bindings use only top-grain leather. Another of the high quality Leathers, that add considerably to the Bible cost. They are really! nice though.
French Morocco leather:
Leather made from a split calfskin, and sometimes goatskin; slightly thinner than other grades, and therefore flexible and soft even when new. A French Morocco Bible binding offers high-quality real leather, at an economical price. These Bibles are a nice choice when needing to save a little, and for the average user offer long term wear.
Berkshire leather, which according to Cambridge is "a term for pigskin – the material most commonly used in bookbinding when genuine leather is the description used." The skin is skivered (sliced) into thinner layers, and embossed with grain pattern, and usually finished with a pigment and gloss coating. These skins have a hard finish, and are somewhat stiff. Pigskin is an economical alternative to Goatskin or Calfskin, but not a good choice where soft feel and appearance is important. I have some of these they are really tough, but so are footballs.
Bonded Leather is made from real leather strips and fibers that are grated, and bonded together then embossed, to give it the appearance of grain making it an alternative choice for both a durable, and economical Bible binding. Bonded Leathers have the relative look, feel, and smell of Genuine Leathers because they are also tannery made; most are made on the same equipment using the same methods as Genuine Leathers.
Premium Bonded Leather:
Bonded leather that goes through a special, and more expensive manufacturing process to give the leather a soft feel and calfskin look. I have an Old Scofield Readers Edition, that has a Premium Bonded leather cover. I call it my "Butter Bible", because of its softness and flexibility. But it's hard to say, whether the increase in cost was worth it.
These go by names such as; Tru-Tone, TuTone, Duo-Tone, Leatherlike or Leatherette, Etc. Some of these however have become quite good, and comparable to Bonded Leather over the years. And may be the better, and more inexpensive! choice for a young persons Bible, considering the toss around care they usually get.
Hardbacks are more durable than both paper or kivar (coated paper) bound books. They are somewhat more expensive than paper, but are more economical than leather bindings. These are the choice for library Bibles (stay at home, and reference volumes), they save a considerable cost, and are about half that or less; of their leather counterparts. I have a few and they show no substantial amount of wear, after many years of use.
Full Yapp/Semi Yapp:
This has reference to the amount of leather on the cover that extends beyond the edge of the pages. This is to protect the paper from being dirtied by your hands. Some of the Allan Bibles offer "Full Yapp" which means that the leather is long enough, that when you put your hand around it, the leather folds totally over the pages. Some folks don't like full yapp covers, they have a tendency to interfere with the turning of pages, and take some getting used too.
A Smythe sewn (Smyth in USA: pronounced as Smith) binding is considered the highest quality binding, the pages are grouped together in small folded booklets sewn, and glued to the spine of the Bible. The benefits are a long lasting Bible that can be read, and reread for years without falling apart. Books with a Smyth sewn binding will stand up to more abuse than a regular glued binding, will lay open and can be read on a flat surface. Smyth sewn Bibles are durable, but they may be heavier and less flexible than glued Bibles. That said if you want the best, then you want a Smyth sewn binding.
Years ago every quality publisher Oxford, Cambridge, and Allan; included a second layer of stitching near the fist and last signatures to reinforce the binding. This is now unique to R. L. Allan. (If you see a vertical line of stitching somewhere in Genesis, and Revelation it is not a defect, it is overcasting.)
Book signatures are groups of leaves. To make a strong book, you sew some leaves usually 8 leaves together into a signature, and then you sew the signatures together. Signatures can be made up of more than eight leaves, but never less than four. However small to moderate sized signatures, make much stronger text blocks.
The total of a book's leaves, which are then bound into the case.
The outer enclosure of a book, whose primary functional duty is to protect the text block. It is also commonly referred to as the "cover". Also at times just as the overall binding, as in Leather bound, Cloth bound, Etc.
Small ornamental band generally of mercerized cotton or silk, which in most modern publisher's trade bindings, is glued on the head as well as the tail of the text-block spine of a book. Modern headbands imitate the sewn-on headbands, that functioned to protect the head and tail of early bindings. The band at the tail of the book, is sometimes called the tailboard. Quality Smythe-sewn bindings still have the head, and tail bands sewn on the text-block spine, for added strengthening.
Leaf or leaves forming that part of the folded end-sheet not pasted down to the inside of the cover board. Its function is to protect the first or last leaves of the text-block. Quality Bibles have several of these usually of quite heavy paper at the beginning, and ending of the text-block; to protect the thinner Bible pages.
A decorative finish to the page edges in which a red dye, and Gold gilt foil combine to add richness and lustre to the finished volume. Bible pages finished with this method appear Gold on the edges when closed, and Ruby Gold to Red depending on the angle of view, when the Bible is lying open. This type of page gilding, is found only on top of the line Bibles. Such as R. L. Allan, and Cambridge Bibles.
A decorative finishing style in which a Gold-coloured metallic foil is applied to the edges of the pages after they have been cut, and rubbed smooth. Silver foil is often applied to the page edges of Bibles bound in White, or Gray.
A plain Gold line or frame (sometimes decorative), on the inside of the front, and back covers of a Bible. Most of the time only used with some Real Leather bindings, not as often with Bonded Leather.
The paper traditionally, used for the best quality Bibles. The name is now generally used for papers that weigh less than 30 grammes per square metre (20lb paper in the USA.)
Thicker than India paper, but still much thinner than common book papers.
Study Bible Editions:
A Study Bible is an edition of the Bible, prepared for the use of a serious student of the Bible. Such a Bible usually contains an extensive apparatus, which may contain such features as: Annotations explaining difficult passages or points of theology, and doctrine. References to indicate where one passage of the text relates to others.
A Bible edition that includes cross-references, to guide the reader to other parts of the Bible where similar subjects are treated. Reference editions often include a concordance, maps, and other study material. But do not contain footnotes, with personal doctrinal preferences. These are my pick in a KJV of course – Oxford or Cambridge. The Thompson Chain is probably the ultimate in Reference Bibles, but is not to my liking. I prefer the Oxford Longprimer ( Cover; Brown or Black full grain Highland Goatskin, and Black French Morocco leather), sold by Allan's Bibles direct of Scotland. The print size in the Longprimer is Clarendon size 10, a much more comfortable size for me to read with my old eyes. Here is a picture of the Longprimers old style classic text block. Note the large number of center cross references (100,000 in total).
A Bible edition in which the text only is provided without cross-references, and sometimes without maps and concordance. Like the Cambridge Kj653:T (Cover; Burgundy French Morocco top grain Calf Skin), and the Kj83 (Cover; Black French Morocco top grain Calf Skin), hand sized large print editions, I personally own a Kj653:T and love it. These are great for reading and study, where minimum distraction or suggestion is desired from cross references, and footnotes. The print is Large in these editions but not Giant (Clarendon size 11 bold), they provide easy reading comfort to anyone wanting a larger size print than is usual in Bibles today. Both of these editions are PCE (Pure Cambridge Edition). PCE Cambridge Bibles contain no word or spelling changes, that were not included in the 1769 final editing of the KJV. A text only edition is also available from Oxford, The "Oxford Ruby Text Edition" but has standard size print. Which means around 7.5 to 8 point OK for the younger eye, but a little small for those of us over 50, and prolonged reading.
Red Letter Editions:
Bibles which have the Words of Christ, printed in Red Lettering. The rest of the text is printed in Black Lettering.
Black Letter Editions:
Bibles which have all the text printed in Black Lettering, including the Words of Christ. These Bibles are preferred by a surprisingly! large percentage of Christian people, and Pastors. I have come to favor these also. Red (pink) letter editions suffer from fading over the years, no matter how much the Bible cost. And give the text a hard to read contrast, especially for older folks who wear glasses. Red Lettering for the words of Christ, do not! make the Bible any more Holy, as it is not by inspiration – but only the additions of men.
Some Bible texts incorporate a phonetic system for indicating the way difficult names should be pronounced, showing the vowel sounds and stressed syllables, as in a dictionary. These volumes are sometimes called self-pronouncing. I find the clutter this introduces into the text distracting, and prefer my Bibles without this feature. Preferring instead the Scofield system, with a glossary of name pronunciations in the back of the Bible. But sometimes the Bible you want does not have everything!, or doesn't come without some things.
Thumb indexed editions, have semi-circular cuts in the outer margins of the pages. The abbreviated names of the books of the Bible are stamped on small tabs, which are firmly glued on to the first page of the individual books, these help the reader to find the pages quickly. I really don't care for this little luxury, to say nothing of the extra $10.00 or so it adds to the cost of a Bible. I also feel a page weakness is introduced by these little missing chunks of paper, and an increased danger of page tearing as an added feature.
Bible Leather, Care And Feeding:
Some advocate applying nothing more, than the natural oil form their hands to the leather cover of a Bible. But a lot of us have sweaty or dry hands, and this is not really the best in good leather care. Of course you can wipe your Bible often with a soft dry cloth, but there is a way to offer good additional protection. Its a product called "Neatsfoot Oil", made from the fatty tissue of cattle from just the part its named for, the hooves (feet).
Breaking In A New Bible:
1. Hold your Bible closed in one hand, and place the spine (back) on a flat hard
KJV Bible Words:
In spite of the constant attempts to discredit the King James Version I believe it is still the most accurate, and reliable translation of the Bible we have today. The forty seven translators of the King James Version, took great care to follow the original text (Received Text) prayerfully checking, and rechecking. Such a group of devoted, and scholarly men has never again been assemble to work on a translation to this day. For those who seek to understand the true teachings of Scripture the King James Version is still the most accurate, and reliable translation that you can use.
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