Above: The Royal Ruby and the Royal Sovereign — "royal" presumably
because Eyre & Spottiswoode were Her Majesty's Printers.
Above: Bound in red fine grain morocco, leather lined, printed on India paper,
with gilt edges and double line of gilt around the inside cover.
As I mentioned before, when I posted a close-up of the Royal Sovereign's text setting, several of you immediately asked, "What's the Bible in that photo?" Trust me, the text setting is the most pedestrian aspect of the book. This edition has a real opulence about it. The color is perfect, the tightly grained cover feels great in the hand.
When I look at it, I remember the first time I saw House of Cards, the part where all the parliamentarians retreat to the party conference, toting those wonderful red briefcases. I lost all track of the plot paying attention to those things. There's something very British about this shade, if you ask me.
Above: The double gilt lints are visible on the inside cover,
and so is the line edging the outside cover, a nice touch.
Above: The original box.
Above: The title page. It looks like mine was passed by Inspector #5.
Above: A page spread. As you can see, those red letters are a little faint.
The second Eyre & Spottiswoode KJV is the Royal Ruby, a pocket-sized text-only KJV with a snap cover. Some people hate these snaps, but I think they're quite handy for a Bible you're likely to tuck into a pocket or toss into a purse or briefcase, since you don't have to worry about any damage being done to the pages. I have several larger Cambridge snap-cover KJVs, and now this one.
Above: The calfskin cover is nicely grained, though a bit stiff.
Above: It opens more or less flat in the hand, but it doesn't stay that way for long!
Of course, Eyre & Spottiswoode is no more, and so are the heydays of red. I don't understand what happened. Remember when car interiors used to be trimmed in red? Try to find one now. It's hard to think of another shade that possesses both high church liturgical cred and mod sixties swank. Instead of heat stamping unattractive decorative motifs into Bible covers, which is all the rage these days, why not a line of tasteful, classic, impossible-to-mistake-for-blah-burgundy red?
It occurred to me recently that you could sum up my soapboxing here with a simple formula. Take the covers, materials, and production quality of a half century ago and add the design and typographical sensibility of today, and you've got a perfect mix. (But then I realized, the typography I like is from half a century ago, too.) Red covers, unlike red letters, are definitely on the list of things to revive.