About R. L. Allan

RL Allan

Our History 

Robert L. Allan first opened his Bible offices at 75 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Scotland,  in 1863. The Allan shop remained in Sauchiehall Street for almost a century until 1959.

Today Allan's remains a small, family-owned publishing business specialising in producing the highest quality leather Bibles, and selling them direct to readers around the world.

Our office is now in London, but we are still a Scottish company, and hold a Royal Licence to publish the Authorized King James Version Bible as Her Majesty's Printers for Scotland. The British Crown maintains perpetual copyright in the KJV Bible.


Our Bibles

The Allan name has become synonymous with the highest quality Bibles in the world, produced using traditional hand-binding methods that have been largely lost in today’s era of mass-production. 

Our King James Version Bibles are printed in The Netherlands by Royal Jongbloed from high quality scanned images of vintage Oxford University Press typesettings. These classic settings in attractive, traditional layouts were originally printed using letterpress methods with individual type arranged by hand into formes.

These traditional settings are therefore full of style and character, which includes occasional broken type or slight variations in printing weight that have been captured perfectly from the early editions we scanned from. The preservation of such variations characterises these old-new editions, printed to today’s highest standards but bearing the marks of their history with pride.

The printed sections are Smyth-sewn for strength (not glued, like modern mass-produced books and Bibles) with our unique Allan Presentation Pages and notepaper and hand-bound into finished Bibles in small batches with specialist binderies in Great Britain or at Royal Jongbloed, using traditional methods that ensure the high quality and individuality of each Bible.

Most distinctively of all, Allan Bibles are now the only Bibles to be bound exclusively in the UK and Europe using the hand-casemaking techniques that were once the norm. The overwhelming majority of our Bibles are leather-lined, with natural grain goatskin or calfskin for the outer and a split calfskin liner. Each piece of leather is individually cut and assembled with the corners pleated by hand. This leather-lined style, with its generous semi- or full yapp (covering the page edges for protection), is the most labour-intensive and complex of all binding styles to achieve. 

Of course, these elements do not make for the kind of precision or exactness that we expect of say a smartphone or tablet – or indeed a normal hardcover book – which are produced in their thousands to tolerances of a fraction of an inch on massive production lines.

For example, our natural grain goatskin or calfskin has not been imprinted with a regularised grain, which is why it retains its natural flexibility. It also means that every cover is different and unique - quite apart from variations to the grain in general, there may be marks where the goat was scratched by a thorn or bitten by insects, and these marks have been retained in the leather.

One much-prized feature of any Allan Bible is the intensity of the rich 'art gilt' page edges, which combine gold or silver foil with a red or blue underlayer. The colour is applied by hand in small batches and in order to achieve the necessary richness there may be a little visible colour bleed onto the Bible pages themselves.

When the printed sections are collated by hand, Smyth-sewn, and the spines rounded individually, this can introduce small variations in the margins on the page as you look through the Bible, or in the rounding of the spine. Yet these elements are key to giving our Bibles the exceptional degree of flexibility which makes them the ideal 'Preacher's Bible', lying flat in the hand straight out of the box.

We have every confidence in our Bibles as the best examples of fine handcraftsmanship available in the world today. However, we know they do not suit everyone – they do not represent a ‘perfection’ of total precision and exactitude in quite the way that we have been led to expect it in other areas of life. Instead, they are a more organic representation of what is possible when the finest natural materials come together with traditional craftsmanship to create a Bible whose outer wrappings are worthy of the Word within. But of course, no binding can ever match the perfection of God’s Word itself.