Thursday, October 16, 2008


Due to the baleful influence of Mark Bertrand's Bible Design & Binding blog I was introduced to the existence of R.L. Allan Bibles from Scotland. Now, I had lived my life in bliss without knowing about Allan's, but can happiness be complete without a Bible bound in tan highland goatskin? No reasonable person could argue 'no'.

Allan takes sewn text blocks and then gives them luxurious bindings in leathers of the highest quality. Since my recent conversion to using the English Standard Version (ESV) I, of course, needed (yes, I did) to acquire some actual copies for pulpit, office and home (yes, I did). So I placed my order for the then upcoming R.L. Allan ESV from (a recommended source) and waited. Then waited. And waited some more. Hey, it's tough to catch those goats in the Highlands!

Yesterday, the awaited tome appeared on my doorstep. It was, as they say, worth the wait. The leather is incredibly soft. Incredibly soft. It doesn't feel delicate, though. The Bible flows in your hands, with almost no stiffness at all right out of the box. There is no problem with it opening flat, a testament (ha!) to both the sewn text, but also to the quality of the binding job. Without question, this is the nicest Bible I've ever owned.

Now for a couple of quibbles, which is all these are. Some raised bands on the spine would have pushed the cover into even further heights. The visual appeal of the text would have been increased with just the slightest bit of wider margins (not wide margins--I'm talking 1/8" here), particularly at the bottom of the page and in the gutter. Clearly, compactness is a premium here, so I understand that the margins are first to go. However, when you're putting highland goatskin around in, bumping up the margins can add just a little more luxury.

The print (or would that be binding?) runs on these are limited, so if you want one best to order quickly. There's also black (but who wants black when you can have tan?!). And worth considering as a 'budget' option is the new Cambridge ESV Pitt Minion, which also looks fantastic in the preview pictures.

Here are a few quick pictures of my Allan's that arrived yesterday.

R.L. Allan ESV in Tan Highland Goatskin
You can see the leather texture well here.
Allan's ESV in Tan Highland Goatskin

Allan's ESV in Tan Highland Goatskin

Allan's ESV in Tan Highland Goatskin

Allan's ESV Cover Interior

Allan's ESV Text


Diane said...

I no longer feel guilty about ordering my new ESV study Bible in the genuine leather binding (yay! It should be here by early next week)

The binding does make a difference, and leather allows you to get years and years of blessed service from one Bible.

Jeff said...

Imported goatskin. You rich preachers. :p

Anonymous said...

Brother, that's just not right. If you need me to, I'll gladly unburden you in order to put this fine work of art to the test. I'm only offering, brother, and it won't be on the table forever.

All kidding aside, great post and wonderful pictures. I suspect, though, the best part of the Bible is found between the covers.

Rick said...

Are the covers soft and flexible? I notice that black backing behind the leather. Is that stiff?

I'm hoping it is super flexible!

looks great! I ordered a tan one, can't wait to get it!

Alan said...

Very flexible. The backing you see is leather so it doesn't really add stiffness. I don't think you'll have any regrets. Let us know how you like it!

Ben said...

How thick is it?

Alan Kurschner said...

Alan, you sold me. I was contemplating on the black or British Tan -- going with the Tan. Thanks.