Glossary of Terms:
A beautiful and very durable top-quality, natural grain leather. Strong yet supple, it is used for the finest bindings. Traditionally known as Morocco leather.
A traditional high-quality leather used in fine bindings. It is long-lasting and its suppleness increases with use. Cambridge calfskin bindings use only top-grain leather.
Leather taken from a split calfskin, slightly thinner than other grades and therefore flexible and soft even when new. A French Morocco binding offers high-quality real leather at an economical price
Calf split leather
A superior grade to French Morocco leather, tanned to approach the quality and feel of full-grain calfskin leather.
Leather taken from a split calfskin, slightly thinner than other grades and therefore flexible and soft even when new.
A decorative finish to the page edges in which a red dye and gilt foil combine to add richness and lustre to the finished volume.
Thicker than India paper, but still much thinner than common book papers. Because of their length, Bibles traditionally have been printed on thin paper to ensure compact volumes. Bibles are printed on paper much thinner and finer than ordinary book paper – yet also strong and opaque, so that ‘show-through’ from one page to another is minimized. Our paper buyers carefully choose the kind of paper best suited to each Bible type and size. They balance considerations of strength, thinness and opacity, and use only papers that meet the highest environmental standards.
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 volumes bound in white. See also art-gilt edges.
A plain gold line or ‘frame’ on the inside covers.
The paper traditionally used for the best quality Bibles. The name is now generally used for papers that weigh less than 30 grams per square meter
A Bible that includes cross-references to guide the reader to other parts of the Bible where similar subjects are treated. Footnotes also give variant readings of the text. Reference editions often include a concordance, maps and other study material.
A Bible in which the text only is provided, without cross-references.
A bookbinding having soft edges that project beyond and fold over the edges of the pages to protect them.
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’.
Some Bible texts have italicized the words that are not a part of the original languages.
The technical word is ‘overcasting’ for the extra line of vertical stitching which is inserted at the middle of the first section and sometimes the middle of the last section to add strength to the binding. A sign of expert binding. This process used to be standard for Cambridge Bibles, however, it used almost exclusively with Allan Bibles. Please do not mistake this for a defect.
Smyth Sewn Binding
Smyth Sewn (also known as Section Sewn) book bindings are the highest quality book binding available on the market today. It is the hallmark of library quality, archival safe books because the pages are physically sewn into the book using binders thread and further reinforced with fabric backing and adhesive to create the most usable and durable books available. Look closely at the binding where the pages meet the spine and you can see the folds of the page signatures. Open the book to the middle of a signature and you may be able to see the binding thread stitches. Smyth Sewn bindings use thread to sew through folded signatures of a book. Signatures are made by printing on large sheets and then folding into groups of pages, usually 16 or 24 at a time. Each signature is sewn individually with threads going through each page several times. The threads are then tied off. All of the signatures are likewise attached together with thread creating what is called the book block. The book block is further strengthened using flannel and adhesive on the spine.
Care and Handling
Leather, unlike many modern materials, will maintain its attractiveness if you follow a few simple guidelines. Keep the Bible away from sources of extreme heat and from water. Use a slightly damp cloth to clean it but please do not use any detergents or packaged Bible cleaning products. The best preservative for leather bindings is a natural substance: the oils transferred from your hands. The more you handle the Bible, the more quickly it will become supple to the touch.
The combination of very thin paper and a generous layer of gilding means that sometimes the pages stick together until they are separated for the first time. If this happens, hold the pages between your thumb and index finger and rub them together with just enough pressure as is necessary to release the pages.
The stitching used to sew the pages together is tough but thin, so open the pages carefully at first to allow the threads to settle. Incidentally, when you open a Cambridge Bible, you may see an extra row of stitching along the inner edge of some of the pages. This is evidence of the extra step our binder takes to secure the pages against strain. This extra stitching is added to the first and last sections of the larger Cambridge Bibles to protect the most vulnerable pages.
Ribbon markers allow you to keep your place while looking up cross-references and to mark a particular passage to which you want to return. If the Bible is one of our larger volumes, it may have two ribbons so you can keep your place in both the Old and the New Testaments at the same time. At Cambridge we take special care in choosing ribbon markers. Strong ribbons of appropriate breadth for the size of each Bible are selected, so that they will not curl up, become thread-like and, in extreme cases, cut through the thin Bible pages. A generous length is specified, too, so that the ribbons do not get lost within the pages.
The wide variety of pens and markers available nowadays makes it impossible to give an unconditional guarantee that notes written on the Bible pages will not smudge or bleed through over time. If using pens or markers, we suggest that you take care in your choice of writing implement and the pressure that you apply.
Head and tail bands
All quality Bibles have the traditional ‘head and tail’ bands which were once used to help people take the books down from densely stocked shelves. Nowadays, they are added as a decorative item and the colors are chosen to complement the shade of leather and gilding used in the binding.
Gilt Edges and Blocking
Many Bibles and Prayer Books are decorated with metallic gold and silver on their covers and on the edges of their paper. The material that is used in this process gives a rich, bright and attractive finish to the book. However, care must be taken to protect the Bible or Prayer Book from rain and snow, as the metallic foil may peel when exposed to moisture.