Saving books by learning about book covers
Saving books (and other media) from the recycling bin (or too low a price), requires distinguishing between bonded leather, imitation leather, sheep skin or goat skin; whether what is printed on the cover is author/artist or title. In my volunteer position of searcher/pricer at Booksavers of Virginia (http://www.booksaversofvirginia.org/ ) I have seen some of these covers, others I have gleaned from descriptions or titles in ABE Books which has fairly detailed descriptions compared to some other sources.(https://www.abebooks.com/ ). Bibles and other pre-20th century books are bound in an astounding array of leathers and treatments. *
A calf must be sacrificed for the best Bible: full green limp calf decorated in gilt; (This is a contemporary green calf. “Limp” costs more.)
- rubbed and chipped tree calf;
- Full treed calf binding with red leather label on spine;
- publisher’s quarter red calf;
- Mottled calf binding with banded spine;
- quarter plum calf with plum textured cloth boards;
- Full acid etched calf;
- Contemporaneous Brown Calf Half Leather binding with five raised bands gilt titles on red morocco title slip;
- Coeval full calf;
- contemporary full, speckled calf;
- Contemporary reversed calf;
- English black full diced calf;
- Rebound in butterscotch leather and marbled end leaves,
- Full Leather, contemporary straight grained dark blue morocco binding with gilt lettering to the spine, gilt rules to boards and spine, decorated in blind . . .
Then there is goatskin
- contemporary green goatskin richly gilt with a herringbone design and incorporating hearts, pineapples, stars, and other floral and leafy ornaments, gilt-decorated spine in 6 compartments, red morocco label
- Bound in contemporary purple straight-grained goatskin, the covers tooled in blind with a wide border of repeated palmette arabesque and anthemion tools, fillets and a chain roll
- ” Bound in fine blue polished crushed levant goatskin with six compartments, each with single gilt frame and strawberries at each corner.
- Bound c.1873 by or for T. Kerslake & Co of Bristol in brown hard-grained goatskin over bevelled boards, the spine with five raised bands tooled with blind fillets converging
See contemporary Bible in blue goatskin: https://evangelicalbible.com/product/cambridge-esv-topaz-dark-blue-goatskin-preorder/
This is one of the most expensive leathers:
The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments . . . [India paper; Water Buffalo Calf-skin leather lined, hand-grained]
Perhaps one of the most elaborate cover descriptions –and only part of it description!
Contemporary full red goatskin, elaborate borders on covers incorporating a Greek key design enclosing lilies with birds and vases with flowers, and with a central monogram “M*B” on an oval green morocco onlay, surrounded by a black morocco onlay tooled with cherubs, the whole surrounded by a flame tool, smooth spines richly gilt and gilt-lettered direct, . . . ($14, 500—at this price one needs a full description)
See the site below for examples of many of the special antique bindings
Contemporary Bible style names are inspiring
Holy Bible, King James Version – Clutch Style Snap Dusty Rose Bonded Leather; Holy Bible, NKJV: Royal Reference, Dusty Rose, Bonded Leather, Thumb Indexed.
Other striking/amusing/eye-catching binding terms
Bumpus binding; Gilt inlaid contemporary moss green crushed morocco binding features …French fillet borders … raised bands, spine gilt in comportments with central rose framed with …
Paperback bunko, turtleback, mook, tankobon softcover (some of these I have not been able to find a description of)
Thomas Nelson’s Premier NKJV Bible
The Premier Collection edition of Thomas Nelson’s NKJV Wide-margin Reference Bible showcases the highest levels of design and craftsmanship: a supple goatskin leather cover, raised spine hubs, durable edge-lined binding, premium European Bible paper, beautiful art gilded edges, three satin ribbon markers, and more.
While God’s word is at the “heart” of scripture, publishing of Bibles has a lot to do with the outward appearance. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” …. (1 Samuel 16:7). Beauty may be only skin deep, but for book sales that skin may make the difference between a ten-dollar sale and a twenty-five dollar sale. When I started doing searching and pricing of books, I would come across the words in descriptions “reading copy only”. I would think, “what’s a book for, anyway”. I soon realized that a book’s cover is often as valuable as the rest of the book and a good cover may save from the recycling bin.
*Booksavers of Virginia has been receiving donations of books for more than 15 years. Most volumes sold by Booksavers are priced between $8 and $20. We have occasionally sold leather volumes like those listed here, but most of the descriptions above are of books available elsewhere.