What do dress shoes have to do with bibles? Not much except for the misnomer of “cordovan”. I was wondering if genuine shell cordovan leather bibles really exist. To date, I have found none. To ask this is almost like asking if water exists on the moon. It might but it hasn’t been discovered and/or confirmed.
Today, we have confusion about what is truly cordovan. There are bibles that have “cordovan” in its name but it only refers to the color of the bible. Cordovan is mostly being incorrectly used by many to describe the color of the leather (as they do with shoe wax polish). This is because the natural color of cordovan is burgundy. Some bible bloggers have blogged about it (here) but even the cordovan they’re talking about is not genuine shell cordovan. Then why are publishers not using the proper term of “burgundy”? Perhaps to add some value to their bibles? Probably. But one must be clear; “burgundy” does not equal genuine shell “cordovan”.
Not many actually know about shell cordovan, and to most people, it really doesn’t make any difference to them. It is not from the cow. Genuine shell cordovan is the most coveted material in men’s leather shoes. It is leather from the hide (butt) of the horse and not just any skin off the horse type of leather. Such genuine shell cordovan leather (by Horween, USA) is used in the manufacture of men’s dress shoes, like Alden’s and Allen Edmonds in the U.S., plus others in the UK and Europe. These shoes can cost upwards of US$550-600. Gulp. Click here to see the manufacturing process of true cordovan.
Since the cost of shell cordovan leather shoes is sky-high, it would be safe to say that are no bible manufacturers in existence today that would want to use this valuable material on its bible covers. They would never sell (unless the buyer sees such value in the “word of God”. I have yet to see one on these on the bookshelves of a bible bookstore. What might be the cost of such a bible? I dare not say. Any guesses out there?
Here are some bibles (Amazon.com, CBD) that incorrectly uses “cordovan” in its name but upon closer examination of the leather, the natural grains give it away. It’s really fine calfskin (nice calfskin for sure…would love to have one on my bookshelf) but it’s still not genuine shell cordovan. Does one exists out there? If so, send me a pic.