Making the Bible Yours-A Review of Rebinding with Retreasured Rebound Bibles

Making the Bible Yours-A Review of Rebinding with Retreasured Rebound Bibles

 

 

One of the most amazing ideas about the Bible is that it is not just God’s gift to the Church, it is also His gift to you, His Christian Child and, today, I want to talk to you about making the Bible truly yours. By way of doing that, I am reviewing a Bible that I had rebound by Bradford Taliaferro at Retreasured Rebound Bibles.

The Choice to Rebind and Which Bible to Choose

The choice to rebind is a very personal one. You have loved your Bible, maybe for a lifetime, and it needs some TLC or maybe you are starting a new ministry and want to make sure that the Bible you choose to carry with you will last a lifetime. That is where a re-binder can come into play. In my case, I wanted to customize my preaching Bible.

The most important advice I can give you is to advise that you choose a Bible that is going to get used and used frequently. (Note: While it can be re-enforced, I do not recommend rebinding a Bible that does not have a sewn Binding.) This may seem obvious but, surprisingly, it isn’t. Ideally, a Bible that has some special significance beyond just being the Scriptures should be your rebind choice. If you are selecting a brand new Bible to have put into a custom leather cover, I would suggest that you consider the following:

 

  • What do you want to do with the Bible? In this case, I rebound the Bible from which I will teach and place my commentary notes. I have also rebound a Bible that was over 50 years old (my grandmother’s) primarily to make sure that it remains a vital family heirloom but also so that I can preach from it a couple times a year.
  • Which English Bible translation will you use most often? Some translations (KJV, ESV, CSB) offer a much broader range of choices than other translations. I chose NKJV (see below)
  • Which features are your must haves? I am a huge fan of wide-margins and I also love a good reference Bible. I do not always have all my tools handy but there are enough of them in a good reference Bible so as to enable me to put together a lesson on the fly if I need to.

Once you have these 3 questions sorted out, the rest becomes infinitely easier.

For my rebind I chose the Nelson Model 472 NLJV Wide Margin Reference Bible. My very first wide margin Bible was a Nelson 472 which was in a backpack that was stolen from me and, since this Bible holds a special place in my heart, it is what I wanted to re-bind. I have also had rebound, by others, my late grandmother’s Bible which has been in service for 60 years, as well as my favorite NASB preaching Bible. That being said, I have taught over 1000 lessons from the New King James Version of the Bible so it holds a special place in my heart. I would encourage you to make a similar choice, rebind something special to you. It is neither an inexpensive proposition to rebind a Bible ($150 is the minimum you will spend for quality that will last and will come with a guarantee.) nor a fast process, though in my case the choosing was the hardest part but the longest was actually sourcing the Bible to rebind.

Why Choose Retreasured Rebound Bibles

There are two reasons I chose Bradford. First, we have done business together on e-Bay and I trust him to be a man of character who does quality business, treats his customers the right way, and is very fair in pricing and operating practice. In and of itself, customer experience and reputation are sufficient to recommend him. But…

More importantly, Bradford is the re-binder that offers the leather I wanted. I researched carefully and compared with the premium cover Bibles that I have on hand and decided that I wanted American Bison Leather or Water Buffalo Leather. Bradford offers American Bison and so he was the logical and indeed obvious choice. I am incredibly glad that I made this choice and I will explain why in the next section. Suffice it to say, I got everything I was expecting and a little that I was not expecting, so I give Bradford my highest recommendation-You should not just consider having him rebind your Bible, you should choose him and have him make it your own.

The Leather

Already having a Bible that was bound in water buffalo calfskin leather, I knew that I wanted to stay in the buffalo family. Other options, varying by the re-binder you choose,  include: Cowhide (thicker than calfskin but not as thick as bison), Calfskin, Goatskin, Lambskin, and exotics such as ostrich, kangaroo, or alligator. Lambskin is the most delicate of the premium leathers and I recommend using caution if choosing it for your rebind. Bison was the perfect choice for me because it is a thicker leather than most and will stand up to most usage situations quite nicely. Even when paired with a leather liner, it’s a little stiff which is a very good thing. Many of the Bibles in the premium leather category are very limp, flexible, and can easily flop out of your hand during one handed usage. In the case of the bison leather the stiffness will, I  think, make the Bible less likely to be dropped during single hand usage.  However, if you do have an accident (I dropped my water buffalo KJV on cement), the damage should be far less than if you were carrying lamb or goatskin.

This bison leather is marbled navy. Over time, it will develop an exquisite patina (a glossy shine from the aging and the oils in my hands mixing into the leather.) Navy was chosen because it is less traditional than black but still a very conservative color. The leather liner is crimson bison leather. It offsets the blue quite nicely and it also happens to be a nod to my past as my high school colors were red and blue.

I have to point out, this leather is incredibly touchable, which is actually quite important. Some leathers have a bit of a plasticky feel to them and they don’t really endear themselves to your hand. Touching and holding is extremely important as the naturally occurring oils on the human skin will work their way into the leather and soften it over time. That oil will, over time, add to the scent of the Bible as well due to the unique blend of microorganisms that are on your skin.

The grain is rather pronounced which lends to the touchability of the Bible. I cannot explain why, but I much prefer the tactile sensation of a fully grained leather as opposed to ironing the skin, which some Bible binders do.

Some re-binders will actually permit you to source and send in your own leather. I did not ask Bradford about that but I am sure that you can discuss your options. This can be a good idea if you are discerning (picky) about the leather that covers your Bible.

Ribbons

For the ribbons, we chose Berisford Ribbons, which were an upgrade. These are a very high quality satin ribbons. Bradford provides up to 5 ribbons with the rebind. I was a little unsure about which color ribbons to choose from and with a little help from Bradford, we chose silver.

As you will see in the pictures, the ribbons are quite long. You need them to be long enough to enable you to lift that section of your Bible enough to get a finger in there and open the right spot. I do not recommend doing as I have seen some do and use the ribbon, by itself to open the text as even the most careful person can tear their Bible with an errant ribbon.

How many ribbons should I choose? Why 5 ribbons in this project? There is not really a right or wrong answer. My suggestion pre-supposes that you are following a specific reading plan. Most reading plans have an OT Reading and an NT Reading each day so I would recommend no less than two, one to mark the next day’s reading in each section. Most commonly, I see a deluxe/premium Bible with 3 ribbons (OT, NT, Psalms readings). Five, though, was not an arbitrary number for me. I generally have no fewer than 5 Scripture references in a sermon so by having 5 ribbons, I am able to mark out each of the five texts that I want to teach on any given Sunday.

Remember that a rebind is a very personal choice so there is not a correct or incorrect choice. My Bible is as much a reflection of my personality as it is a reflection of my theological positions. I am not a pastor who opens with a miniature stand-up comedy routine but I am not a stoic either. When I stand behind my podium, it is the Scripture that I want to be the center of attention.

The Extras

The extras are mostly aesthetic but I did add a little utility as well. This was a hardcover to leather conversion so I asked Bradford to sand and round the page corners. We also dyed the page edges a similar red to the liner. I also had lined notes pages for some particular notes that I want to always have with me in the Bible.

Hendrickson-Rose Publishing actually makes some different inserts, such as a topical index) which can be added to a re-bind. These are intriguing and well worth a look. In my case, I did not pass on them out of any dislike but simply because at 7”x10”x2” this Bible is already huge and I did not want to stack in additional helps which would be more or less painting the peacock.

The front stamping: You will note that it does not say Holy Bible on the front. Instead it says Holiness to the LORD. I drew this from Exodus 28:36 (It is the engraving on the gold plate that is on the High Priest’s turban) and it serves as a reminder to me that, as a Pastor, I am set apart to minister before the Lord and to model holiness to His people. Every time I pick up my Bible, I will see those words and be reminded of the Audience before Whom I stand and to Whom I shall one day give answer.

The Craftsmanship

The craftsmanship is just spectacular; I tried for a better adjective but that was the first word that came to mind when I opened the mailer so it is very apropos. This is a hand crafted rebind with a full yapp. There are certain little details that would go unnoticed by many that were not lost on me. The end papers are thick enough that I was able to write on them with a fountain pen but not so stiff as to prevent the Bible from lying flat when opened in Genesis. A traditional black leatherette end paper bookends the text block followed by the white end papers which can be written on. There are raised spine hubs and even though I am pretty sure they no longer mark out where the threads are in the spine, they are a nod to Bibles of ages gone by. The corner work is very well done. In some Bibles, the corners come open quite easily, often within a day or two of use, but I do not see any indication that such a problem would be an issue with this work.

Turn-around time was about 2 weeks. Naturally it will vary depending on the time of the year such as the holiday gift giving season etc. I was quite impressed with how quickly it was done.

 

Some overall thoughts

I am very much a traditionalist and this rebind hits on all the sweet spots for me. It is expertly re-crafted, very refined and traditional looking yet different enough to make you take a second glance. Everything from the feel of the leather to the “vintage book smell” says that this is heirloom quality. It will far outlast me, should the Lord delay His return, and I hope will equip pastors for generations to come.

Bradford included two items that I have never seen another re-binder include and they deserve special mention. First, a hand written thank you note and second, a pamphlet from Crossway Books designed to help you get through your Bible reading in a year. Bradford is, I think, too modest to say it himself but this really is a partnership between you and your re-binder. In our case, every time this Bible is opened and taught, he is earning a share of that ministry and is sharing in how God is using the Bible to bring a people unto himself. It will be the same for you and your ministry (yes you have a ministry even if it is not vocational).

The Bonus

As a bonus, for my readers, Bradford is offering a free upgrade to Berisford Satin Ribbons when you mention this article during your order.

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