Smyth Sewn Bible

I am recovering a hard back ESV Bible.

How to choose a book that is worth the time and money to rebind to look like it is from the 18th century or before.

I’m back from LifeWay Christian Bookstore. I spent an hour or two there this afternoon examining all of their Bibles. No matter if they were leather bound, faux leather bourn, etc., all but two were just glued to the spine like a paperback book. That means that they will not last, if you use them hard like I hope that you do.

I did find two Bibles that were Smyth Sewn. I got to watch this process at BindTec in Nashville, Tennessee several years ago when I had a thousand of my 1733 New Testaments bound at a modern bindery. That was fun.

Most modern bound books are not Smyth Sewn. It cost a lot more to have them made this way. Most book signatures are cut, just like paperback books. The edges of the books are just glued to mesh or to thin cardboard material. Smyth Sewn books are folding into signature, like I do. Then a machine sews all of the signatures together, they are glued to each other and then the mesh material of the spine. They are not sewn around rib cords like I do, but they will really outlast most other modern bound books.

Of all the Bibles on LifeWay’s shelf, I only found two that were Smyth Sewn. They were both hard back books. I have posted photos of the one I purchased, so you can see them. One was a Bible with room to take notes, which made the type/fonts in this particular Bible smaller than the one that I ended up purchasing. Both were made by the same company, Crossway. These two only came in the English Standard Version. I will go looking on the web to look for a larger one. It is a little small for my liking, but it will do. Crossway’s web address is www.ESVBIBLE.ORG

You can tell the difference between a Smyth Sewn book and the others by looking down at the top or the bottom of the book, near the end bands.   You should be able to see that the signatures are folded in half.  You can also see the center of the signature when you open the signature up in the center.   You will be able to see the thread that was used to sew the signatures together. If you do, you will know that it is a well bound modern book.

The cover on this book is ugly. But not for long…I am going to take this book apart. Re-stitch it around rib cords, then cover it with real leather, and tool it. It will then look and last like all of the other 18th century books that I make. The worse thing about this book is that the paper is too thin for my taste. The one that I did not get because of the smaller font/type had thicker paper. You might like that one better. Plus it had room of notes on each page.