Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Allan Oxford Longprimer

R.L. Allan and sons has been publishing high quality Bibles since 1863 in Glasgow, Scotland and holds the Queen's royal licence to publish the King James Version in the UK. Allan's Bibles have an unblemished reputation for the finest craftsmanship and quality. I can think of no better way to introduce these fine publishers than to present their KJV Oxford Longprimer Reference Edition. This flagship edition displays all the reasons why Allan's has such a devoted customer base and why they've retained a reputation as the best of the best., Allan's U.S. distributor, comments,

 The Allan Longprimer is Allan's signature Bible.  It is perhaps the best designed and manufactured Bibles available.  It has continually received the best reviews of any Bible that we market. [. . . .] The Longprimer has a host of other features that separate it from the pack, but Legibility and Binding are the 2 single most important features that contribute to Bible quality.  With hundreds of Bibles in our facility to choose from, the Highland Goatskin Longprimer stands in a league of its own. 

The Longprimer is a classic edition of the KJV, presenting all the finest features in a traditional elegance and style.


The Highland Goatskin binding featuring a full yapp and the finest natural-grained leather available is distinct and luxurious. The finish features a low gloss, a rich texture and a soft but durable flexibility. The full yapp feature encloses the text block with an extra half inch fold of leather, producing a classic vintage look as well as extra protection for the art gilt pages. The extra pinched leather at the top and bottom of the spine protects the sewn binding and the edge of the book block.

Among the other special features are three long glossy blue ribbons, the leather lined, gold trimmed interior of the cover and beautiful blue endpapers.

This binding rivals or exceeds almost all other editions I've handled as far as flexibility. It easily rolls, flips bends and flexes into a number of positions without pressure or folding. It also seems to achieve these positions with a minimum amount of stress on the spine due to the sewn binding's flexibility, the leather's malleability and the advanced binding technique which distributes the pressure away from the spine toward the center of the book block.

A tight yoga position is easily achieved with minor stress. The dimensions fit this Bible into the larger end of the average carrying size at 8 and 3/4 inches by 6 inches. This is fairly ideal for regular use and study, providing space for a larger font and more margin space but not too large to hold for casual reading in the armchair, the pew or in bed.

The leather grain will vary because it's a natural product but this edition features a wider or more pronounced grain versus Cambridge Bibles which seem to feature a finer grain with a higher gloss finish. This binding features all around excellence and a number of features that elevate this Bible beyond many other publishers' finest editions.



The Longprimer features a familiar Oxford, black letter text block with a very traditional verse per line format, center column references and self-pronouncing text. The Longprimer surrounds this layout with a generous margin, a 10/11 pt font and clear, dark print. The result is eminently readable and though it may not appeal to readers who are searching for a more modern paragraph or single-column setting, this is the best traditional layout I have yet reviewed. The pictures do not do this layout justice. Every time I open this Bible I am surprised by the size of the font and the high contrast on the page.


The Longprimer features a number of additional features which push it above and beyond the best. Along with the Oxford cross reference system comes a 43 page dictionary of proper names, a 37 page Subject Index and a 161 page Concordance along with 16 pages of Oxford maps. The near-full yapp, glossy dark blue ribbons, exquisite gold foil page edges and the 32 pages of lined paper in the back only continue the well-established excellence of the edition. A unique feature is "overcasting" or a line of reinforced stitching in Genesis and Revelation that is visible in the inside gutter and provides extra support and durabilitity for the smyth sewn text block bound in the Netherlands. The Bible also features a presentation page and a number of pages for tracking family history.

The Longprimer excels in every way. It is without a doubt the most luxuriously executed Bible edition I have ever reviewed. It is also the most expensive. My preferences tend to lean toward the innovative and interesting. I have a predilection for wide margin Bibles and those editions which have unique function and purpose. The Longprimer is does not provide new innovations, but excels at perfecting old techniques and classic publishing. It does not offer a specialized function, but instead perfects the traditional beyond Cambridge and Local Church Publisher's editions. For those looking for a traditional format KJV, this is without a doubt the finest Bible I've yet seen. 

The only reasons for not choosing this edition would be size preference (the Cambridge Concord is smaller and perhaps more portable) or pricing. The Longprimer is a very portable and readable size, though it may not conform to the current "tiny Bible" trend, and although the price is high at about $190.00, this Bible will certainly appeal the most to those looking for the perfect lifetime edition. For those searching for a Bible the attains the highest level of quality in almost every category, while still maintaining a traditional layout, will have their dreams met in the Longprimer. I would recommend it without hesitation to the traditionalist, the collector or the KJV lover who is searching for the perfect edition.

My thanks to R.L. Allan for providing this complimentary review copy.


  1. Hubby bought me a Longprimer last year - I was reluctant to get it, I didn't really need one and I don't generally like reference editions but after handling it, I'm a convert!

    I'm marking mine with pencil crayons and the pages take the colour well without showing too much through the other side.

    And there's one more feature about the new Longprimer (vs the older) - the box it comes in is a tad larger so the corners don't get smunched when you put it away - something my hubby greatly appreciates!

    Now, if they'd just publish a KJB in crimson....

    Lynn in ON, Canada

    1. taking orders for Longprimer Bible in Crimson ready by Nov.2013.

  2. Superb review.

    I'm very glad that you've received a worthy sucessor to the ESV wide margin Cambridge of months ago.

  3. I owned a LP for a short time last year, and agree that it is a spectacular Bible. I have to admit, though, after reading your review the first thing I thought was, "If Allan is sending out complimentary LPs, I really need to get into the reviewing game!" ;)

  4. The Longprimer is definitely the cream of the crop when it comes to the traditional setting. I was blessed to have R.L. Allan send me a copy. The LORD has done a number of impressive things that have made this blog a valuable part of my life and support.