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Focus on the ESV1

November 30th, 2018 | By Ian and Dominique Metcalfe | Category: Bibles Direct Latest

With the ESV Classic Reference back in stock and now with added sumptuousness in the form of increased yapp, it seemed like a good time to assess the merits of what has been one of the key Bibles in the Allan range over the past 15 years or so.

In truth, it was the ESV Classic Reference – product code ESV1 – that really sewed the seeds of where we find ourselves today. The English Standard Version launched in the US in 2001 and a year after in the UK, and in my role as Editorial Director for Bibles at HarperCollins in the UK I had the privilege of launching the ESV in the British text editions here. A year or two later we sold some printed sheets to my uncle, Nicholas Gray, so he could experiment with a fine binding edition – the ESV1.

This was around the same time of the second wave of interest in the internet – after the first dotcom boom and bust – and R.L. Allan was one of the first Scottish companies of its size to get an internet shop website up and running. This meant that new customers all over the world were able to find out about our products for the first time – and they liked what they saw. In particular, the combination of the more traditional translation approach of the ESV, alongside the super-traditional fine leather binding style of our Bibles, seemed to make for a perfect match.

Over the years the quality of the binding has improved in little ways here and there – like the gold line inside, for example – and that of the printed sheets has moved upwards in tandem, including the shift to red letter text as we started to use Crossway’s sheets rather than the British text Collins edition.

A couple of years ago production moved to Ludlow Bookbinders, which introduced a few minor changes in the binding style, including a slightly different mix of colours so that a more mid-blue shade and a lovely dark burgundy became available for the first time.

This year we have increased the width of the semi-yapp for an additional level of sumptuousness, and we have been particularly pleased with the way this draws the eye to Ludlow’s beautifully formed hand-pleated corners and the incredibly soft calfskin liner material. As you can see in the pictures below, the liner is so soft that just from sitting in the box with the paper bands round it to train the yapp, it takes a clear impression from the edges of the pages.

Of course, this impression will soften and shift a little as the Bible is used, because the flexibility of our sewn book blocks and of the leather-lined binding style means that the pages will rest against the liner in a slightly different place every time the Bible is closed. This seems to me the perfect embodiment of the unique character of these handmade Bibles – so different from the fixed millimetre-perfect precision of a modern smartphone or a mass-produced Bible!

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