An Oxford Bible, Circa 1932

So how does a nicely-bound Bible age? That’s what our friend Christian in Sweden wanted to know, so he snapped these photos of a 75-year-old Oxford Bible bound in goatskin. It’s leather-lined with art-gilt (red under gold) edges. As you can see in the photos, it was published in 1932. The original owner recorded the dates of her conversion (November 7, 1933) and baptism (November 12, 1932).
Bild 556
Above: Full-yapp edges have an organic look, a far cry from machined uniformity.
Below: The art-gilt pages have held up over time.

Bild 557
Christian reports:

“The gold imprinting is just so good and nice, not faded even after 75 years. The full yapp edge is very supple still, even if it’s worn in the edges and lost the black in certain parts. The covers are not so supple since they have a paper board between the leather lining and the cover. Still, it is bendable and I can say I would easily choose this Bible instead of most modern Bibles, even though this one is 75 years old!”

Bild 559
Above: A traditional double-column setting.
Below: A look at the inside cover.

Bild 561
Bild 563
Above: Printed in London, 1932.
Below: The vintage edition compared to a modern Cambridge NKJV.

Bild 558
The nice thing about these photos is that they suggest how much use you can expect from a well-made Bible. I don’t know about you, but I’m more interested in a Bible that will be in one piece when I’m through with it than one that looks pretty out of the box. If you can have both in one package, so much the better.
Bild 560
Above: A detail of the grain.
Below: Compared to a modern Cambridge KJV.

Bild 564
Thanks, Christian, for sharing this find with the rest of us!

11 Comments on “An Oxford Bible, Circa 1932

  1. Very nice! The thing that amazes me, in addition to the binding, is the presence of an actual date of publication. Oxford and Cambridge Bibles typically don’t have that . . . so dating a particular edition is hard, if not impossible.
    I have a copy of the “Teacher’s Edition” KJV published by Collins (London) and inscribed to a recipient in 1910–and it looks very similar to these photos. This little Bible is an Emerald 16mo reference edition, so almost illegible for me now because of the tiny print. But it has a large section of colorized photos of the holy land that are truly amazing.
    I also have an undated Oxford “The S.S. Teacher’s Edition” (Oxford Facsimile Series No. 2, Minion Crown 8vo Ref.) published under Henry Frowde which I think is probably 1890s-era. It’s “Levant Silk Sewed” and the leather binding is in wonderful condition, although the black has worn to brown at the hinges. This was in the era when the “center column references” were actually in two outside columns with the text in the center–I love that page layout.

  2. Funny thing about my love for Bibles – before I was really interested in bindings & quality etc I owned an old leather hardcover Bible that I’d found amongst the cobwebs in the attic of our old 1800′s ‘manse’ (house) whilst growing up in Aberdeen, Scotland – my father being sent to pastor a Church over there… I was fascinated by this old gem mainly because it had a ‘date of publication’ page in it similar to the one above, the one I found was an old KJV Printed in 1858 & still in good condition. Being around 8yrs-old at the time I’ve forgotten the name of the publisher! Long story short – I ended up donating it to one of my Bible Lecturers at College as an act of gratitude for his years of mentoring & a way to preserve something that I knew was special. Now that my collection has grown I do miss it & have to admit that there are times where I wish I’d discovered this passion for Bibles a tad earlier – Oh well, at least it was ‘given’ in the right spirit :) !!

  3. With the Oxfords you can date them roughly by the actual publisher in charge at the time – like Geoffrey Cumberlege and Henry Frowde (they state that on the title page). I sell quite a few each week on ebay. I have 2 very nice NEB’s listed as I type (in goatskin). The Bibles I buy at auction tend to fall into 2 categories: well read and well loved and not that easy to sell and unloved and unopened and easy to sell! – one thing that always amuses is how many have 4 leaf clovers in them..pagan roots die hard it seems.

  4. I friend of mine gave me an Oxford Concordance Bible, S.S. Teacher’s Edition. The front page was torn and so there’s no way for me to know the date of its publication. However, I found a clue as to how old maybe the book is from a handwriting noting a birth date of 1833. It’s levant silk sewed.

  5. I found a Bible like above ss teacher edition oxford, which was given to my great-grandfather on Dec.25,1892 .
    Does anyone know if or what the value might be????

  6. Patricia, I have a Bible that my grandfather used for a long time, and It is priceless for me with all te notes and commits he wrote. It is probably the same age. Look above in these commits a person sells Bibles like this on e-bay you might get a idea. Enjoy the Bible.

  7. Lee-
    I just picked up a bible that might be the exact same as yours: I also have an undated Oxford “The S.S. Teacher’s Edition” (Oxford Facsimile Series No. 2, Minion Crown 8vo Ref.) published under Henry Frowde which I think is probably 1890s-era. It’s “Levant Silk Sewed” and the leather binding is in wonderful condition, although the black has worn to brown at the hinges. This was in the era when the “center column references” were actually in two outside columns with the text in the center–I love that page layout.
    EXCEPT, mine is Series No. 3, Nonp. 8vo.Refs.??? It has handwriting on the first page that says Myrtie E Rowley. from Mother Christmas 1887.
    It is SO NEAT!! I love it. published also under Henry Frowde, Silk Sewed, wonderful binding and browning on the edges. It also has the two outside columns with text in the center. I wish there was more info out there on this bible. I can’t seem to find anything.
    Nice book to have, though!

  8. Are there genuine leather hardcover KJVs on available on the market?

  9. I also have an undated Oxford “The S.S. Teacher’s Edition” (Oxford Facsimile Series No. 2, Minion Crown 8vo Ref.) published under Henry Frowde!!!!!

  10. Recently borrowed the SS Teacher’s Edition for research and have been looking for info. Found a few thi ngs.. A site on Google under Antique Buyer’s Guide (www.greatsite.com> Ancient Rare Bibles and Books), they sell, do appraisels, seem to have a lot of info. The page w/ history of the Bible printings including “who & when” stuff was on this page: http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/index.html (dating this Bible no earlier than 1880′s which was England’s 1st Revision timeframe.)
    The other thing they write on is the cover. Some of the older, really elaborate bindings add $1000′s to the value – but they’re the exception. It’s the printed page & it’s date & condition that generally rule on value and said getting a really good new binding could add to the value. Their own prices weren’t listed – it takes a phone call to find out – but didn’t search for a purchase on the SS Teacher’s Edition (this one’s No.2). Enjoyed the site & info there. A* :)

  11. My wife has inherited a Oxford facsimile series no.03. Printed at the university press London: Henry Frowde. S.S. teacher’s edition. With Levant Silk Sewed. The pages seem in perfect condition but the black cover is a bit worn.
    What is it worth?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>