« The R.L. Allan Reference ESV | Main | The ESV Journaling Bible: Moving Wide Margins into the Mainstream »

September 21, 2007



So my four favorite Bibles are:

1. my ESV thinline Cordovan premium calfskin. (Thanks for the recommendation on this one Mark.)
2. My Cambridege wide margin NIV in goatskin
3. My Cambridge loose-leaf NIV. It is great for study, but impractical for turning pages at a Bible study.
4. My next one.


For anyone interested, I found this guy on EBAY...selling this Bible for $95.99 + $5 shipping. He has ok feedback...and just checking it again tonight, I see he has 11 available. I'm considering buying one, but haven't decided whether to make the leap or not. I've already got the Black Calfskin ESV Single-Column Reference...but still, this might be nice! :)


Well, it didn't post the hyperlink, but if you do a search on EBAY for "ESV, thinline", scroll to the bottom and it is the one being sold for the $95.99. Easy to find.

Michael Smith

Mark what do you think of the black ESV thinline calfskin Bible I have one and find it better then the first edition of the Cordovan due to the thicker paper. Thanks for the info on the ESV Bible from Alan's. I have just ordered one as of Monday oct 29th

MIchael Smith

Mark I am in the process of receiving this edition of the ESV and I am going compare it with the black edition my Oct comment as about.


Is the binding on this Bible sewn or glued?

J. Mark Bertrand

Eric -- It's sewn. According to Crossway, all the cordovan calfskin editions now available have sewn bindings.


Thanks for the reply Mark, I've got another question now...
Is the leather on this Bible the same as the Classic Ref. Burgundy Premium Calfskin? I dont see the words "Cordovan" anywhere, but they look very similar, right down to the stitching. The Bible I'm looking at is on evangelicalbible.com.

J. Mark Bertrand

The list of ESV editions is online here:


The description now sounds a bit ambiguous. They're calling it "Premium Calfskin Leather, Cordovan (Antique Burgundy)." The ISBN is 1581345984. The edition listed at 50% at evangelicalbible.com is actually ISBN 1581347057, which Crossway describes as "Premium Calfskin Leather, Cordovan," though it's the same edition. The Classic Reference is not the Thinline reviewed here, in other words, but it has the same binding.

Rod Summers

Just noticed the one 50% off at evangelicalbible, according to the ESV web site, does not come out until April 11.

Chris Merritt

I just picked up one of these at my local bookstore and love it. Something curious though--the one I purchased doesn't have the gold stitching along the edges like I've seen on others. Have they modified the design recently?


Chris, I heard they dropped the top stitching detail because there were too many complaints about the stitching coming apart.

Ben Ting

Yup, mine is also without the stitching. The cover is so soft. Btw, is the Cordovan calfskin fragile & easily "damaged"? Because the skin just feels so delicate.


Has Crossway addressed the issues people have been having with the paper on the Thinline? It sounds like a quality Bible, but the bleed through would bother me I think. Anyone have the inside scoop on this?


Sorry to bother you all but trying to attempt to locate a antique dealer specializing in bibles and I think religious antifacts. All I know was his first name was Eric and lived in Rocky Point, Long Island, New York (about 4-5 years ago). If anyone knows of him or has any information on how to contact him, please post. Thank you all for anticipated help.


I see that no one has written anything on this for months, but I just wanted to put in a plug for this wonderful Bible. Actually, today I purchased the ESV Classic Referance Cordovan in the premium calfskin, when I found it necessary to return the ESV1 tan Bible I just got. The issue for me with the ESV1 from Allan was the print and paper quality. It was definitely a beautiful Bible, and I look forward to perhaps purchasing another Allan's Bible in the future (perhaps the Reader's Edition ESV coming out this fall?) but for me the bleedthrough of the text was significant enough that I found I needed to return the Bible. Anyway, I was able to go to a store where I got the Cordovan Bible for 40% off, and I will have to say it is just beautiful. I expected it to be burgandy, as is stated on evangelicalbible.com, but was pleasantly surprised to find it more of a dark caramel color-just beautiful. I love the quality of the binding and the leather inside lining as well. And the paper quality is great and for some reason the font is just so much more readable for me than the Allan ESV1. It's by far the nicest Bible I've ever owned and I would recommend it to anyone.

buy viagra

In the ultimate oil irony, even the merest mention by President Bush of sanctions against Iran is enough to push up oil prices -- and thus to send even more dollars to Tehran.

buy viagra

I was able to go to a store where I got the Cordovan Bible for 40% off, and I will have to say it is just beautiful. I expected it to be burgandy


I try and grow several new plants every year. It's my job to see how things do in different environments, but I'd grow a variety of plants, even if it wasn't. I'm always curious to see if plants will turn out like their magazine shots. When they do, I'm delighted. When they don't, I have to wonder if it was them or me.


I know this article has been dead for awhile outside of our friendly spambots, but I just received this bible today and it is amazing. I love the calfskin and the font / typeface is considerably better than the Premium Thinline I was using before.

Excellent Bible for the price I picked it up for.

Matt Morales

@Timothy - From what I understand, the NEW premium thinline has an 8.2 text and the OLD printing (calfskin editions) have a 9.5 text.

What did you not like about the printing in the premium thinline...I heard it was supposed to be good?

How is the ghosting/bleedthrough in the Calfskin ed you purchased?


Crossway told me that they are using a different font in the NEW thinline which supposedly makes up for the decreased font size. I'm curious to hear Timothy's take on this as well.


No problem guys... here are the specifics as I see them. I have no real data from Crossway on fonts, sizes, paper weights, etc. Just looking at them side-by-side. :)

Right off the bat, the text block itself on the Calfskin is a bit larger (nearly 1/4" taller and a bit less than that wider)than the Premium, yet the text per page seems to be the same. i.e. Romans 12 starts on the same lower right part of the page in both Bibles, etc. So this leaves better spacing for the text on the Calfskin edition. More space between lines and even between individual letters in a word as well.

The paper on the Calfskin is more off-white, while the Premium is closer to a shade of yellow, though both are more yellow than white. The Calfskin paper is more opaque than the Premium. When looking at the large bold chapter numbers, the chapter numbers can be seen through two pages of the Calfskin paper, and seen through three to four pages of the Premium paper.

The text imprint on the Premium thinline is actually a bit darker than the Calfskin, although due to the higher transparency of the paper and the higher contrast of the dark print on the yellow color of the paper, the Premium text is harder on the eyes to read under both fluorescent and "True Color", those blue tinted GE, lights.

The font on both appears to be about the same size, though the Calfskin reads easier and appears to be larger due to the better spacing.

Combine these all, and the text is much easier to read on the Calfskin... plus is feel so awesome amazing in the hand.


Zach Mockbee

I recently received both the black Allan's ESV PSR and the cordovan calfskin to see which I liked better. I have to say, while the Allan Bible is excellent, I chose the cordovan. I just love it!

Zach Mockbee

Scratch those two! I got the HCSB Ultrathin in Calfskin and the leathers blows those two out of the water! Absolutely soft and flexible. I wish people would pay more attention to the Holman, it's an incredibly solid translation.

John S

I am very impressed with the HCSB Ultrathin in calfskin as well. I really enjoy that bible.


You guys are going to talk me into the HCSB Ultrathin in calfskin; I was just looking at it online a couple days ago but couldn't find any good pictures of the font, nor have I read of the font size. I have a copy of the HCSB that I picked up used and while I hadn't spent much time with it, I started reading Proverbs from it this month and have really enjoy it thus far, 9 days in. The copy I have is not the 2010 edition, I don't know how many changes were made.


I third the HCSB ultrathin. wonderful little bible. font is around 9. bleed through is minimal as far as thinlines go. the font like what zondervan used in the 90's. a bit dated in my opinion, but easy reading.


I wish I could see a better (actual/real) picture of the HCSB Ultrathin Bible open. While I am very tempted to order one, I do wish their Large Print version came in the calfskin. Also, Crossway is coming out with a 2011 ESV and while I would like one of those also, I believe it will be some time before it is available in a version I would want, not to mention Allan.

John S

Brian, I'll try to take some pictures and post a link in the next few days.


Thanks John.

John S

Well, I got some pictures. It's really difficult to get good pictures of the text. The pictures all look kind of washed out, so the bible looks much better in living color. At least these will give you a better idea. I included a couple pictures with a Pitt Minion for comparison.



Wow, John, the paper does indeed look excellent in this! The paragraph layout is attractive with small superscripted verse numbers, light section headings, and the absence of references. I'd prefer black-letter like the single-column Ministers versions but you can't have everything.

Can anyone comment if the same textblocks (with same quality & thickness paper) are used in the cheaper DuoTone bindings of this edition, namely the brown (ISBN-13 = 978-1433601194) and grey (ISBN-13 = 978-1433601200)? Are there any bonded leather editions?

John S

Bill, I'd prefer black letter as well. The red is plenty dark for me in real life, it's not a bright fire engine red or anything.

I am pretty sure that the HCSB Ultrathin is only available in the two duotones and the calf.


Thank you John, those pictures are a help. The used HCSB I picked up also is a text version with no references and I must say that really like the layout.


I have the black calfskin version of the ESV thinline. Is it any different in binding? Just curious since this post is about the Cordovan edition.

Zach Mockbee

I really wanted the black calfskin edition. I'm a bit of a traditionalist! So, after a little over a month of use with these three Bibles, I've determined that the Allan is my favorite. It's very old world and well put together. I kept the HCSB calf and still love it, but I gave my cordovan to my buddy who lives next door in the dorms. We're getting ready to graduate from Bible College and every minister should have a quality Bible.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Welcome to BibleDesignBlog.com, a site devoted to innovative design and quality Bible binding. Read the reviews, explore the extensive comments, and feel free to join in. The links in the righthand column give you access to all the reviews, every category (including rebinding projects and "eye candy"), and links to other sites that might interest you.
My Photo


  • J. Mark Bertrand is the author of Back on Murder, Pattern of Wounds, and the forthcoming Nothing to Hide, crime novels featuring Houston homicide detective Roland March. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and lived in the city for fifteen years. After one hurricane too many, he and his wife moved to South Dakota. Mark has been arrested for a crime he didn't commit, was the foreman of a hung jury in Houston, and after relocating served on the jury that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead.

Books by Bertrand

Bible Reviews