1961 NEB New Testament in Blue Morocco
Pushing fifty and rendered obsolete by an excellent revision, there’s still something charming about the New English Bible. Maybe it’s the text setting — my favorite of all time — but we’ll get into that in a moment. For now, here’s a fine example: a 1961 edition of the NEB New Testament bound in blue Morocco, still in beautiful shape. I found this recently on eBay and paid a whopping $10.
About that text setting. I’ve written about it before (see “Design Case Study: NEB NT Paperback”) and will no doubt return to it again. Why? Because it’s the most satisfying single-column text setting of Scripture I have yet encountered. The proportions are elegant, the font choice is classic, the layout makes perfect sense. There’s not much to fault here, if you ask me:
This is no pocket edition. It’s larger than many thinline Bibles, measuring 6 x 9, and about an inch thick. Not ideal for carrying around, but quite nice for reading. Of course, the quality binding helps, too. It’s sewn, naturally, and the paper is nice and thick, cream-colored and quite opaque, with gently curved corners. After all this time, the calfskin still feels great to the touch. And guess what? It opens flat.
There are some signs of wear: pencil marks inside, a bit of crushing on the bottom of the spine — probably from standing on a bookcase with those slight semi-yapp edges. Still, after forty-seven years, it’s perfectly usable. In fact, thanks to its design, it’s a lot more pleasant to use than many of the whippersnappers available today.
I’m particularly impressed with the finishing inside. The lining doesn’t appear to be leather, but it has an attractive pebbled surface that looks the part, and the edge is rolled neatly for a clean line. (Note: I shot the photo of the inside cover in fairly bright light to get a good focus on the details, and as a result the blue looks lighter than it does in life.) This thing isn’t going to unravel anytime soon.
The grain up close is beautiful, and while blue isn’t a color I’ve given much thought to, I find the execution quite refined here. Let’s take one last look: