Glossary of Terms:
A decorative finish to the page edges using colored dye and gilt foil to add richness and luster to the finished volume. Art gilt is not water resistant. Please use care when taking your Bible out in inclement weather or using it around liquids (e.g., water, coffee, tea, etc.)
A decorative finish in which a gold or silver-colored metallic foil is applied to the edges of the pages after they have been cut and rubbed smooth. Like art-gilt page edges, gilt edges are not water resistant.
A plain gold line or ‘frame’ stamped around the perimeter of the inside of the covers.
Head and Tail Bands
A decorative element attached to the top and bottom of the book block. 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. Today, they are added as a cosmetic item, and the colors are chosen to complement the shade of leather and gilding used in the binding.
Some Bible texts italicize words that are not part of the original languages but are added to aid understanding.
Leather Types in Premium Bibles:
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.
Leather taken from a split calfskin or split cowhide, slightly thinner than other premium grades, it offers high-quality real leather at an economical price.
A superior grade to French Morocco leather, tanned to approach the quality and feel of full-grain calfskin leather.
A typesetting technique that matches the lines of text on one side of a page to the lines of text on the back side of a page in order to minimize “ghosting” or “show through” of the print.
An extra line of vertical stitching which is inserted at the middle of the first and sometimes last signatures of a Bible to add strength to the binding. It is visible in the inner margin of the Bible. This technique was common in vintage Bibles and is seen in some premium Bibles today. Please do not mistake this for a defect.
The paper traditionally used for the best quality Bibles. Real India paper is no longer used, and the name is now generally used for papers that weigh less than 30 grams per square meter (GSM).
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. Strong and opaque papers are used in the highest quality Bibles so that “ghosting” or “show-through” from one page to another is minimized.
A line of stitching around the perimeter of many premium Bibles that adds beauty as well as strength to the cover.
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.
Ribbon markers allow you to keep your place in your Bible as a bookmark while reading or looking up other passages. Larger editions tend to have multiple ribbons.
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” Bibles.
A group of larger, printed pages folded and sewn down the center. Stacked together, these create a book block. Look closely at the binding where the pages meet the spine and you can see the folds of the page signatures. See Smyth Sewn Binding.
Smyth Sewn Binding
A Smyth Sewn (also known as Section Sewn) book binding is the highest quality book binding available on the market today, as the pages are physically sewn into the book using binder’s thread, and further reinforced with fabric backing and adhesive. Smyth Sewn bindings use thread to sew through folded signatures of a book. 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.
A Bible in which the text only is provided, without cross-references.
A Bible binding that extends beyond and folds over the page edges to protect them.