7 Different Leather Binding Covers for Bibles
1. Introduction: Why leather Bibles?
2. Goatskin Leather
3. Calf skin Leather
4. Calf split leather
6. French Morocco leather
7. Genuine leather
8. Bonded leather
9. Care of Leather Bibles
10. Conclusion: The Seven Most Commonly Used Leathers
Why Leather Bibles?
Many Christians take pride in their Bibles. They use their Bibles daily, make important notes they want to remember, and hope their Bible will last a long time. Leather Bibles last longer than hardback Bibles. My hardback Bibles last only 3 years. But my leather ones last much longer.
Not all leather binding covers of Bibles are alike. Some will last for generations and can be an heirloom if properly cared for. Other leathers will last only a few years if used regularly. Different leathers handle differently and have various textures. Here is a description of the seven most commonly used leathers in binding Bibles. The best quality leathers are listed first, and then the lower quality.
At the end of the article are listed some websites to which you can refer.
Goatskin leather is a very resilient top quality natural grain leather, strong and supple, used in the finest bindings. Goatskin is also known as Morocco leather. The best goatskin leather comes from northern Nigeria due to the ecology and weather conditions creating the best hides. The native peoples specially process the hides by methods developed over generations for thousands of years. Once finished, the hides used to be transported over the Sahara Desert to Morocco. Morocco historically was the trade center for goatskin leather to the ancient world.
Calfskin leather is a higher quality leather used for finer bindings. It is unusually soft and flexible, which increases with use. Calfskin is one of the favorite leathers of book binders.
Calf Split Leather
Real leather is taken from animal hide. Split leather refers to the underside of the hide; the other side, top grain, is superior and more expensive.
Calf split leather is tanned to approach the quality and feel of top grain calf skin leather. Calf split leather is stiffer than goatskin and has an elegant feel to the grain. It is a superior grade to French Morocco, genuine leather and bonded leather.
Cowhide is a soft leather, more flexible than genuine leather. Although it is considered a premium leather, it is more economical than calfskin, but a higher quality than genuine leather.
French Morocco Leather
This leather is different from the goatskin Morocco leather. French Morocco is leather taken from a split hide--sheep skin, calf or cowhide. It is slightly thinner than the other grades of leather and therefore relatively flexible and soft even when new. French Morocco offers high quality real leather at an economical price.
Genuine leather is always pigskin. You will never find a Jewish Torah made of genuine leather. A Seventh Day Adventist will be disappointed to learn his Bible is probably covered with pigskin. Genuine leather is the cheapest and most popular of real leathers. Pigskin covers are usually stiff and not as soft and flexible as the better quality leathers. Genuine leather is also known as Berkshire leather.
Bonded leather is the poorest quality of the leathers with which Bibles are covered. Bonded leather is actually leather scrapings mixed with plasticizer, colored and then pressed with a leather like pattern. It is the same idea as medium density fiberboard. It is cheaper, easier to produce, takes less skill to work with, and sort of functions much like real leather. That is, sort of. Bonded leather does not hold up as well as leather skins. It falls apart. Where the bonded leather has to bend when the cover is opened is not as strong as real leather and will break. Keep this in mind when buying a Bible you plan on using much.
Although there are varying qualities of Bonded leather, the better quality imitation leather Bibles will actually last longer than a bonded leather Bible. Some come with beautifully designed covers. Some of the name brands to look for are TruTone, Kirvella, Leatherflex, and LeatherLike.
Care of Your Leather Bible
If you properly care for a leather Bible from the better quality leathers, it can be an heirloom and last for generations, even with daily use. There are things that can be done to make the binding and cover last. Your grandchildren can be gifted their grandparents Bible. My husband has his grandfathers Bible, and he cherishes it. Here are two points to keep in mind for care of your Bible:
- To keep the binding strong, do not store papers in your Bible. And do not stand the Bible on end in the book case. Lay it down flat. These two points weaken the binding of your Bible.
- Periodically treat the leather cover with a conditioning oil. Some leather conditioning oils to look for are Fredelkas Formula, sapphir renovateur, leather honey, obenaufs leather oil, and Coach leather oil.
The Seven Most Commonly Used Leathers
These seven leathers are the most commonly used in making leather Bibles. There are other type leathers that can be found, such as kangaroo and water buffalo, but these would be very expensive here in the states. Refer to this the next time you wish to purchase a fine quality Bible.
Which Leather did you like the Best?
Which cover binding will you look for the next Bible you buy?
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Doneta Wrate