For the Love of Bibles: R.L. Allan ESV1

My preaching Bible is a black highland goatskin R. L. Allan ESV1. In my humble and amateur opinion, R. L. Allan makes the finest Bibles in the world. I love the feel of this Bible in my hands. It took me a while to get used to the “red under gold art gilt” because of the pinkish borders in my peripheral vision when I read. But I have grown accustomed to it now. The only negative of this Bible is the “ghosting” (seeing through the page to the print on the other side) for which it has become infamous in the Bible design community. In fact, just the other day a friend of mine was lamenting the fact that this ESV1 from Allan would be the perfect Bible if the paper was more opaque. I agree. The outside of this Bible is phenomenal in look and feel. And the three blue ribbons alongside the art gilt is stunning.

Mark Bertrand has written the definitive review of this Bible, including the tan and brown editions, so I won’t put many words into this post, but instead just post some photographs of mine:

esv1 deskshot
The R. L. Allan ESV1 (black highland goatskin)

esv1 deskshot2
The black edition comes with three gorgeous blue ribbons
esv1 open deskshot
The ESV1 will open and lay flat in Genesis or Revelation
Made in Glasgow, Scotland, the only negative with this Bible is the “ghosting.”
r l allan website
You can order directly from R. L. Allan ( or their American distributor, Evangelical Bible ( Cost fluctuates based upon the exchange rate, but you can expect to shell out about $170-180 (updated Jan. ’12) unless you find a good deal on eBay, which you occasionally can!

9 thoughts on “For the Love of Bibles: R.L. Allan ESV1”

  1. Have you found a way to add bookmark ribbons to your bible, yet?

    Or if the bible doesn’t come with the ribbons you can’t really add ribbons?

    1. Katherine, as far as I can tell, the largest printed Bibles by Allan are:

      KJV (Longprimer)
      NASB (NASB1)
      ESV (ESV Readers)

      All those are in the 10-11 point font size range.

      Hope that helps!

  2. This Bible looks really great but with the exception of the ghosting. Sadly, that is a big put off for me and I won’t be buying this. Thanks for sharing & God bless

    1. Cheryl-Lee, To be fair to R. L. Allan…

      My photograph, with the lighting accentuates the ghosting problem. Furthermore, my edition is from the worst printing run that they released. The ghosting issue, while not eliminated, was improved in future printings. I’m hopeful that the edition coming out this year, which will feature the 2011 text update, will be even better.

      1. Thanks for your reply. I didn’t think of it in that way. I recently purchased a black Trutone ESV Personal Reference Bible and I love it very much. The ESV & the NASB are my favourite versions for reading and study.

        In a previous post of yours, I stated that my everyday full-size Bible is my NAS International Inductive Study Bible – being the inductive Bible student that I am. I favour it over its successor for its margin space. I really hope that the ESV edition of this Bible will be great and have decent margin space also.

  3. Hi Brett… thanks for your comments on my review of the Allan ESVSCR1. With Allan’s newer ESV offerings, are you still a fan of the ESV1? And do you still prefer it for preaching? I’m considering going back to the ESV1 but I’ve forgotten somewhat of its quality (sold mine a while back). I like that its a bit smaller, and I recall the binding feel more secure than the ESVNC1 I recently received, which is still strong but looser and more idiosyncratic. (also more $ : ) I will likely sell my ESVNC1 eventually because I don’t have use for that big of a two-column Bible, and I will keep my Allan ESV compact. Don’t know if its worth adding in an ESV1. Thanks in advance for advice : )

    1. Jeffrey,

      Thanks for posting. I still love my ESV1 but my aging eyes caused me to retire it as my preaching Bible. I have switched to the Omega since it has larger print. If you have younger eyes, the I highly recommend the ESV1. To me, it’s the perfect size in the hand. It served me wonderfully as a preaching Bible for about five years.

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