Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: Cambridge ESV Pitt Minion Reference Brown Calf Split

Bible aficionados have been blessed in the last month by the auspicious release of intriguing new Cambridge editions. The two most noted are the KJV Transetto and the KJV Clarion; however, Cambridge has also added to their classic Pitt Minion line by releasing a new edition of the ESV in an attractive Brown Calf Split binding. Calf Split is climbing in popularity as a medium in Bible binding, and Cambridge is releasing a number of calf split editions. Their KJV Cameo Reference edition in black pebble grain calf split, which included the Apocrypha was receiving rave reviews until a printing error manifested. I'm looking forward to its re-release in September, and in spite of the publication issue, the release proved the popularity of the material.

The Pitt Minion line has remained a tried and true edition maximizing portability and readability. The design choices result in a what is a "just right" edition for many. The ESV Pitt Minion Reference in Brown Calf Split maintains all the style, tradition and features loved in the Pitt Minion line while embracing the ESV text and a beautiful pebble-grain calf split cover.


The binding is really the appeal of this edition. Calf split remains far cheaper than goatskin, but presents excellent durability and feel. Cambridge explains calf split as follows:

Calf split leatherA superior grade to French Morocco leather, tanned to approach the quality and feel of full-grain calfskin leather.
French Morocco leather Leather taken from a split hide – sheepskin, calf or cowhide. Slightly thinner than the other grades of leather and therefore relatively flexible and soft even when new. A French Morocco binding offers high-quality real leather at an economical price.
My experience with Cambridge's French Morocco was that it was stiffer, higher gloss, but significantly thicker than "Genuine Leather" or pigskin. The calf split on the ESV Pitt Minion is an entirely different story. It's thickness and softness are every bit as excellent as the goatskin featured on the NLT Pitt Minion, in fact the calf split may be superior in softness. Additionally, the pebble grain is wide, beautiful and pleasant to the touch, far more desirable to my taste than the tight, high gloss grain on the previous Pitt Minion edition I have reviewed.

 This edition pairs the milk chocolate brown of the leather with a standard gilt rather than art gilt, which decreases the price and matches the overall aesthetic of the Bible well. Some will miss the art gilt pages, but the excellence of the cover material and the affordability of the edition should make up for the downgrade on the page edges.

The calf split leather is paired with a Smyth-sewn binding, creating flexibility and durability. The leather is a fair amount stiffer than goatskin, but still able to perform acrobatics fairly well. I had to coax it into the yoga position several times before I was able to take a picture, but with time and use I imagine this will soften up nicely and become much more flexible.

This edition features the standard Cambridge paper and Pitt Minion size, taking advantage of proven qualities in durability, portability and readability.


The Pitt Minion has maintained an excellent reputation among Bible lovers for its clear readable layout and this edition is no exception. Cambridge made excellent choices when designing the Pitt Minion line and this Bible makes use of the well proportioned compromise between portability and readability. For most, this is the most readable a portable, traditional Bible setting can get. For more details on the excellence of the layout view the review of the NLT Pitt Minion. This edition features red-letter text and the print is a rich, readable crimson.

While I praise many of Cambridge's editions for their quality, this edition also stands out in value. I actually prefer the calf split to the goatskin I've handled on the previous Pitt Minion and it's much cheaper. If I were to purchase a portable ESV, this is the one I would choose. The soft pebble grain texture combined with the readability of the Pitt Minion layout make this a high value contender.

My thanks to Cambridge for providing this complimentary review copy. I was not required to give a positive review, but an honest review.

ESV Pitt Minion Reference Brown Calf Split ES443:XR


  1. Thanks for the informative review. My wife and I each own a Pitt Minion in brown goatskin. Very nice Bibles. The Brown Calf Split looks like a nice option. From what I can tell there's only about a $10 difference between them?

  2. Thanks Bryan. At the calf split is $65.99 and the Goatskin is $95. I'm not sure, but the price difference on Amazon might only be $10.

  3. Got it. is where I would definitely buy!

  4. I take it this claf split edition DOES have 2 ribbons??
    Thx. JiF

  5. I take it this claf split edition DOES have 2 ribbons??
    Thx. JiF