Allan ESV New Classic Reader’s Edition, Highland Goatskin, Navy Blue and Black

First Impressions

SUPERLATIVE- “Of the highest kind, quality, or order; surpassing all else or others; supreme.” 

Since the Allan ESV NCR surpasses nearly all other Bibles on the market; we decided to review two at the same time. Both the Navy Blue and Black versions (see pictures below) are of Highland Goatskin and Chant bound. Allan has changed their binderies over time, but from what I have gathered the Chant bound Allan’s are their best work. When I first received the Allan ESV NCR in Navy Blue, I couldn’t believe my eyes, or my nose, as the amazing goatskin leather aroma quickly filled my home. The grain on the Highland Goatskin reminds me of a nice cobblestone road, weathered and beautiful. When you open this work of art, you will notice a high level of craftsmanship has gone into this specific Bible. The Highland Goatskin allows for a tremendous amount of flexibility, while maintaining strength and durability. Never before have I witnessed a Bible that lays THIS flat out of the box. Several other Bibles require you to really work the binding in order to lay flat–that is not the case with the Allan ESV NCR. In fact, you can fold this Bible under itself right out of the box. The luxurious goatskin extends beyond the book block to create a semi-yapp that acts as a defense shield. One thing to point out on the Navy Blue version is the deep blue art gilding. Several other versions do not have the blue art gilding–most of the time you will get Allan’s deep red gilding (as seen in the black goatskin version below). Regardless, Allan is known for their deeply bolded gilding. The book block is comprised of 36gsm, Jongbloed cream colored paper. The texture, feel and smell of the paper leaves you feeling like a 16th century reformer. The text block is caressed by an 11/16″ outer margin that begs for note taking.

The Allan ESV NCR is a larger (yet thinner) version of the Allan ESV1. Both Bibles utilizing Crossway’s New Classic Reference text layout: double column text with center column references. The unique thing about the Allan ESV NCR is that it will share the same pagination as the Allan ESV1 and Crossway produced New Classic Reference Bibles (2011 text versions or later). In addition to the double column text and cross references, the Allan ESV NCR provides book introductions at the beginning of each book–a helpful tool to gain your grounding if you are opening to a book you haven’t read in a while. As you turn past the book of Revelation, you will notice 8 detailed maps and 32 lined pages for note taking. Not many Bibles (outside of Allans or Cambridge Wide Margins) have lined pages in the back for note taking. The only drawback I have with my Allan ESV NCR is that the 10pt size font is not line matched, a technique used to reduce bleed-through or “ghosting” of the words on the opposite side of the page. That said, the thick 36gsm paper greatly helps eliminate ghosting.

I could go on and on and on and on and on (you get the point) and how amazing this Bible is–but I don’t think it can be believed without being seen and held. I HIGHLY recommend the Allan ESV New Classic Reader.


The Allan ESV NCR utilizes a 10pt size font that is bold and highly readable. Despite the lack of line matching, this Bible is a pleasure to read. You could make an argument that a single column, line matched layout would be preferred over this old school double column/center reference layout–but that lies with the eye of the beholder. I likely would prefer single column for extended readings, but due to the large font, I am not dismayed by the double column layout at all. The cream colored Jongbloed paper simply puts a smile on anyone’s face—making all other regular white paper look like a glare off of a tin roof on a sunny day. The feel of the goatskin, the feel of the paper, and the boldness of the font make the Allan ESV NCR a highly readable Bible to have for many years.

Recommended Uses

The Allan ESV NCR is a preacher’s dream. This Bible is set up for note taking in the margins, to lay flat on a pulpit or desk, to bring to church, or just about anything. It is packed with book intros, cross references, foot notes, maps, and 32 lined pages in the back of the Bible.The only thing I would not recommend the Allan ESV NCR for is portability. My dream is for Allan to make a smaller version of the NCR (similar to a Cambridge Pitt Minion) that has the same pagination. Outside of the many uses for the Allan ESV NCR, let’s get to its life expectancy. When you consider all the properties: Highland Goatskin, edge-lined binding, Chant bound, 36gsm Jonbloed paper, you get an extremely attractive and highly durable Bible. This one will stand the test of time for many, many years.

– Paul

Technical Details

Font Size: 10-point font

# of Columns: Double Column

Margins: 11/16″

Red Letter/Black Letter: Black Letter

Cover: Highland Goatskin, Navy Blue and Black versions reviewed

Lays Flat: Don’t patronize this beautiful Bible–the Allan ESV NCR defined “lay’s flat”

Estimated Life: A lifetime and a half

Art Gilting: Navy Blue Goatskin: Blue under Gold, Black Goatskin: Red under Gold

Paper Quality: 36gsm thick, cream colored paper–a.k.a. amazing

LxWxD: 10″ x 7″ x 1.5″ 

# of ribbons: Three

# of maps: 8

Cross References: Yes

Concordance: 71 pages

Publisher/Printing: R.L. Allan

Text Edition:  2011 ESV text edition

Where to buy: Evangelical BibleBibles-Direct (in United Kingdom)

Detailed Images (Yes, there are a lot of them. You’re welcome!)



Example of over-cast stitching near Genesis 30 to help strengthen the binding: