Cambridge Turquoise Review
The Cambridge Turquoise (named for the gem, like many older Cambridge editions) is a large print KJV reference edition from the 1920’s. It’s been one of the standard premium reference Bibles for many generations and is a favorite among preachers because of the large dark typeface. The Turquoise has been out of print for several years and now Cambridge has re-released this traditional vintage design in a premium edition with top of the line materials. It includes the Translators to the Reader, a newly redesigned concordance, and colorful maps.
It’s available in black, brown, or blue goatskin with a calfskin line (the brown and blue editions are evangelicalbible.com exclusives), and black calfsplit with a paste-over (also called paste-off or paste-down). It comes in the standard Cambridge clamshell box. I’m reviewing the blue goatskin, ISBN: 9781108440639, Model KJ676:XRL, made by Royal Jongbloed in the Netherlands.
The Cambridge Turquoise is now available in blue or brown at EvangelicalBible.com
Cover and Binding
The cover is navy blue goatskin. The blue (and the brown) were produced in collaboration with Schuyler Bibles and are exclusive to EvangelicalBible.com. It has a deep pebbly natural grain with excellent texture and a shiny finish. It’s flexible enough to roll like a newspaper but not so flexible that you can’t hold in open in one hand (my preferred method because I don’t like holding the paper). It has enough structure to hold its shape but it’s not stiff at all. It has perimeter stitching with blue thread that blends with the cover.
The text on the cover is gold. The front of the cover has HOLY BIBLE while the spine has HOLY BIBLE, KING JAMES VERSION, RED LETTER EDITION, the Cambridge KJV seal, and CAMBRIDGE. It also includes 5 raised spine ribs (which helps protect the text on the spine from scuffs. It smells great.
The text-block is Smyth sewn. The liner is edge-lined calfskin leather with a thick vinyl-coated paper glued to the leather edge-lined tab (hinge). At first, I thought the hinge was a little stiff, but once I turned to Genesis 1 the hinge allowed the pages to lie flat out of the box with no trouble. It didn’t have to break in before I could read or preach from the first page of Genesis 1 (which I did the first time I preached from it).
It includes two 8mm dark blue Berisfords ribbons. It also has silver and blue head/tail bands. The text-block size: 9.2 x 6 x 1.3″. The overall size is 9.8 x 6.37 x 1.37″. It weighs 2lbs, 5.8 oz. Even though this is larger and heavier than most Bibles that I carry, I had no trouble carrying this one and holding it for reading.
The paper is 28gsm Indopaque from Papeteries du Léman, Thonon-les-Bains, France. It has an ivory color and is extremely opaque – which is especially impressive considering how thin it is. To my fingers though, it feels thicker than the 30+gsm in the Concord. It has no glare or shine under direct light. I love the color of this paper. It’s white without being too bright, and it isn’t so off-white that it looks dirty, gray, or yellow. This is my favorite color for Bible paper. It makes me want to read it.
Even though it’s 28gsm, I had no issues turning pages. The paper is smooth but still has enough texture that I can separate the pages easily with one hand. The page edges are art-gilt with blue under gold. The blue looks great while reading.
This is a vintage setting with the text presented in the traditional verse-by-verse double column layout with center column references. The header includes the book name and range of chapters on that page in the outer margin and two page-summaries in the inner column (one summary for each column). It only includes the books that start on that page. I think showing the range of books would have been helpful too, but there is limited space so it makes sense why they wouldn’t. The footer has the page number in the center. The page counts start over in the New Testament.
Rather than producing a digital edition, Cambridge has gone back to the old metal-press style. This edition looks to be a scan of a clean edition. I haven’t seen many broken fonts or smears that are typical of metal press printings or typical of scans of later editions. It does have a few (very few) places where ink didn’t cover the font 100% perfectly, but the few I saw are very small and is a reminder that this is a vintage setting- not a digital setting. The scan itself is so clean that it doesn’t look like a scan at all. Nothing from the back side of the page was copied. If they told me they got out their metal plates and printing press I’d almost believe them. Even the tiniest text in the center column is clean and legible.
The typeface is a bold Antique Old Style No. 3 at 10/11 point (10-point for just the font, and 11-point when you include the leading (space between the lines)). This is a heavy font which makes it darker than most fonts. This is the largest print I’ve seen in a premium reference edition. Due to the typeface design, it actually reads more like an 11 point. It has a lot of white space around the text (more than most reference KJV’s), making this text easy to read. In my opinion, this is the easiest text to read of any premium KJV.
This is a red-letter edition. The red is dark and easy to read. There’s no fading with either the red or the black. Being a bold font makes it great for reading in bad lighting. I could almost read this by moonlight. At the same time, it’s not so dark that it hurts my eyes to read for long periods of time. This is the perfect font for my 50-year-old bifocaled eyes.
This is a self-pronouncing text. There’s a guide in the front that shows how to pronounce each of the symbols. I like that it isn’t overdone. It has a few names I don’t need but it doesn’t include common names like Jesus, David, Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem. This is most helpful for public reading. Italics are used for supplied words. Paragraphs, all the way to Acts 20, are marked with pilcrows.
One thing unique about this design is that chapters are numbered. Next to the chapter number is a bracket with a number that shows which chapter this is in the Bible. It’s interesting to know that John chapter 3 is the 1000th chapter in the Bible (at least in the common English book order), but I’m not really sure that I can use this information for anything valuable. I did mention the chapter number when preaching though, just in case. I actually do find it interesting.
Although I don’t think it’s on purpose, the text is mostly line-matched (meaning the lines on both sides of the page line up to each other- which improves readability). This greatly improves readability. Even where they don’t line up, the paper is opaque enough that the show-through of this dark print is minimal.
It has around 32 characters across, making room for around 5-7 words per line. This layout was done by hand, so there are a few places where the words are jammed together a little too close, and there are places where there’s a little extra space between the words. This is noticeable but I never had any issues reading it. Even when preaching from it I haven’t had to think about what the words are.
It does have footnote and reference keys within the text. The keys (numbers for footnotes and letters for references) are large. This makes them easy to see, but it also makes them difficult to ignore. I have to check the footnotes out of curiosity almost every time. That’s not a complaint though.
It has .5″ margins, which helps bring the text out of the gutter and even provides a little space for small notes or symbols. Instead of bending out of view, the text stays almost perfectly flat.
I’ve found the large print to be perfect for preaching. It’s the perfect size for reading too, but the KJV vbv layout doesn’t work as well for reading (look at Ps 98:8-9, Col 1:21-22, the thousands of sentences that start with capital letters even though they continue a sentence, and many others for examples).
References and Footnotes
Cross-references and footnotes are placed next to the verses they correspond to, making them easy to find at a glance. This is my preference. Many verses have a little bit of space in the center column that can be used for small notes. They include the letter or number keys. Unlike the Concord, which places the verse number on the side of the column it matches, there’s no way to tell at a glance which column they go to. This actually keeps the center column a little cleaner when you consider that it includes the keys. They’re labeled within the text from left to right- across both columns. This means you might have a, b, and d in the left column and c and f in the right column.
I’m not sure how many references there are, but it’s probably in the 45k range. It does have enough for some basic study and sermon prep. Here are some example references to help you compare:
- Genesis 1:1 – Ps 136:5; Jn 1:1-3; Col 1:16,17; He 1:8-10; 11:3; Jer 4:23
- Deuteronomy 6:4 – Mk 12:29; Isa 42:8; Jn 17:3; 1 Co 8:4,6
- Isaiah 9:6 – Lk 2:11; Isa 7:14; Mt 28:18; Judg 13:18; Eph 2:14
- Matthew 17:20 – Mt 21:21; Mk 11:23; Mt 13:31; Mt 17:9
- Mark 11:23 – N/A
- Mark 12:29 – Deu 6:4,5
- John 1:1 – Ge 1:1; Jn 17:5; Col 1:17; 1 Jn 1:1; Jn 1:14; Rev 19:13; 1 Jn 1:2; Phil 2:6
- John 2:19 – Mt 26:61; 27:40; Mk 14:58; Jn 10:18
- Acts 2:38 – Lk 24:47; Acts 3:19; 20:21; 8:15,16; 22:16; Mt 26:28; Acts 10:45
- 1 John 1:1 – Jn 1:1; 1 Jn 2:13,14; Rev 1:2; Jn 1:14; Lk 24:49; Jn 1:4
The footnotes are those from the translators and include alternate renderings and explanations from the original languages. I’m glad to see they’re included. For me that makes this Bible that much more valuable for study.
In the front are several thick, non-shiny, pages for family records. It includes a personal page to show who this Bible belongs to, the family record of the father and mother, children, marriages, grandchildren, and deaths. All of the pages have blue highlights, except for the deaths page which has black.
The concordance is 112 pages with 3 columns per page. This is a newly typeset version of their older paragraph concordance using a digital font. It retains the paragraph setting but has three columns instead of two and the keywords are not in bold. The entries are still indented to help the keywords stand out.
I find the three columns easier to use than the two-column concordance. Although, I am kind of surprised to see Cambridge go back to the standard concordance. I actually expected to see the Reader’s Companion that’s found in the Clarion and Pitt Minion. It makes sense though, considering that the Turquoise is a vintage edition, for it to include the vintage tools. With this in mind though, I would have liked for them to have included the glossary and possibly the dictionary that many of the vintage editions had.
Words with more than one part of speech are marked with their part of speech and have separate entries for each. For example, praise can be either a noun or a verb. Both are included separately and marked with (n) or (v).
Here are a few examples with their number of entries:
- Christ – 36
- Christian – 3
- Faith – 54
- Faithful – 27
- Faithfully – 3
- Faithfulness – 6
- Faithless – 4
- God – 76
- Goddess – 3
- Godhead – 3
- Godliness – 4
- Godly – 2
- God-ward – 3
- Praise (n) – 11
- Praise (v) – 14
- Pray – 45
- Prayer – 22
It has 15 pages of maps on thick, semi-glossy, paper. The maps are bright and colorful. These are the same maps from my goatskin Concord, but the semi-glossy paper makes the colors much more vibrant. They cover borders, import commodities, dates, routes, passes, settlements, distance, topography, mountains, cities of refuge, cities, tribes, vegetation, kingdoms, battle sites, satrapy, cities walls, city gates, older city walls, seven Churches of Asia, and more.
It doesn’t show any of the possible Exodus routes at all, so there’s Red Sea crossing highlighted. I’d rather see this than for them to show a route without it or a route that took them to the Reed Sea.
It includes an 8-page color-coded index to maps. The colors show settlements, political (nations, provinces, and regions), physical land, physical water, travel, and Jerusalem. I’m glad they included this. I prefer maps to have an index and I find the Cambridge color-coded index to be one of the most useful.
- The Ancient Near East in the Late Bronze Age
- Regions of Palestine and Surrounding Areas
- Sinai and Canaan at the Time of the Exodus
- Israel within Canaan
- The United Monarchy of David and Solomon
- Israel and Judah: The Divided Monarchy
- The Assyrian Empire
- The Babylonian Empire
- The Persian Empire
- The Hellenistic World after Alexander
- Jerusalem in Old Testament Times
- Jerusalem in New Testament Times
- Palestine in New Testament Times
- The Roman Empire
- The Eastern Mediterranean in the First Century AD
Here are a few comparisons with the most prominent premium KJV’s. These are not the best photos (sorry about that). I’m planning a much more extensive comparison article that will give a better view of each Bible and include a few more than I’ve included here.
Final Thoughts on the Cambridge Turquoise
I’m glad to see the Turquoise back. I’ve been looking forward to the return of the Turquoise for many years and Cambridge has exceeded my expectations. My main concern was the paper and print quality, and I’m glad to say that both are of the highest quality. Together they make the perfect combination for readability.
Even though it doesn’t have cross-references in the 6-digit range, it is a good reference edition and the concordance helps make up the difference. I like that the references and footnotes are next to the verses they correspond to. This makes them much easier to find at a glance. The maps are well-drawn and it has an extensive index to maps. I would like to have a glossary for words that have changed their meaning or are out of use. The Concord has this and I see it as one of its strengths.
It still looks like an old Bible, and I believe that will appeal to many KJV readers that prefer the traditional verse-by-verse layout. The large, dark typeface combined with the Indopaque paper is perfect for reading in public, making the Turquoise an excellent preacher’s Bible, and is a great choice for anyone interested in a large print reference KJV in red letter with the traditional layout, footnotes, and italics for supplied words. I highly recommend the Cambridge Turquoise.
My personal preference has leaned toward large and dark fonts and the Cambridge Turquoise, and especially this EvangelicalBible.com exclusive blue goatskin, is my favorite choice. I’ll be using this Bible for many years. I’d like to thank Cambridge for making the Turquoise available again and Evangelical Bible for making it available in blue and brown goatskin.
The Cambridge Turquoise is now available in blue or brown at EvangelicalBible.com
Photography by hannah C brown
Evangelical Bible provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.