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.

Oxford/Cambridge NEB NT 7

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:

Oxford/Cambridge NEB NT 3

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.

Oxford/Cambridge NEB NT 4

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.

Oxford/Cambridge NEB NT 5

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.

Oxford/Cambridge NEB NT 1

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:

Oxford/Cambridge NEB NT 6

14 Comments on “1961 NEB New Testament in Blue Morocco

  1. Congratulations on a nice find!
    In a similar vein, about 10 years ago I found an edition of the NEB in “genuine cowhide” in a used bookstore for about $15. By the standards of the folks frequenting this site, it is merely a mid-range binding, yet I cannot really find anything like it these days. I don’t like super-limp covers, yet this one still lays open on a table and the cover still gives the book a little support. It’s what leather bindings used to be–usable and durable.
    It is a protestant Bible (no deuterocanonicals) that measures approx 5.5 x 7.9 inches at slightly under 1.5 inches thick. To me, it is the paradigm example of a personal Bible, both for its size and the text setting. I hope to be able to share photos at some point.

  2. Wow, really enjoying this site…the typesetting reminds me of the leather bound Valley of Vision. Clean and elegant.

  3. Awesome find! The NEB/REB has become one of my favorite translations. Mark if you ever want to sell (or give away) this edition please email. 😉
    PS – I suggest a For Sale/Wanted section of Bible Design & Binding. I can be part of the group therapy.

  4. Me too! The older versions of the NEB have the best typesetting/font/single column/number of words per line/etc. of any Bible of all time. I can’t get away from it. Sure, it may not be the most literal, but it is the most enjoyable to read for the beautiful English and the design! Wake up bible publishers! Copy this design.
    I’m so jealous of this edition that you have!

  5. Another nice Bible. $10? How do you do that?
    I tried for the Water Buffalo on ebay. My first bid was at $43. I dropped out at $65.

  6. Mark,
    Do you have an ISBN for this edition?

  7. I’m sorry, Marion, but this edition is from 1961. They didn’t have ISBN numbers back then!

  8. I bought a hardback one of those at Salvation Army for $1. It is quite nice.

  9. Hi Mark-just thought I’d share about a bible I just bought in New Zealand that I don’t think has been seen before on your blog…a 1970 Oxford-Cambridge NEB with Apocrypha in blue/grey goatskin with blue art gilt-single column setting. All for the princely sum of NZ$10!

  10. I, too, have a NEB New Testament in blue Morocco leather. I bought it at a used bookstore in my hometown of Tulsa for a $1.00. It has the old owner’s name stamped in gold on the front, but that just adds to the uniqueness for me. I love the translation, but like Mark, I’m most pleased with the text layout. It is the best I’ve ever come across. Since then I’ve bought several hardback editions of this New Testament, keeping one at my office.

    I just purchased a complete NEB in black cowhide from eBay for $35. I’m hoping this edition is in good shape and sturdy enough to be my daily user and the Bible I take with me to Mass, apologetics class, and Bible study at my parish.

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