Some people collect antique leather-bound books for purely aesthetic reasons, using them as decorative objects to fill the shelves of a living room or study. Others collect for content, choosing leather-bound versions of their favorite novels or historical works of literature.

Regardless of a collector’s motivation, there are a few things to know. First of all, what type of leather is used in the book’s binding? Because it’s easy to dye, calf skin has long been a favorite of book binders, who also use this type of leather to create tree-trunk or other wood-grain effects. Levant leather is made from goat skin, and was typically used in books described as being made from Moroccan leather. Then there’s seal skin, which is easy to work and gives book covers a shiny look.

The other major attribute of leather-bound books is the decoration on the leather itself. Some books feature coats of arms on their covers, signifying the patron who commissioned them. Others are decorated with specks of dye to create a sprinkled effect.

Relievo binding refers to a deeply embossed type of tooling on a leather-bound book’s cover, Cambridge is the word for two-tone leather covers, and Etruscan binding describes a cover that has been acid etched and typically features a central panel surrounded by a decorative border.

Private presses famous for their leather-bound books include The Kelmscott Press, which was founded in 1891 by English Arts and Crafts evangelist William Morris. Kelmscott inspired Elbert Hubbard to set up the Roycroft Press in the United States.

In the 1920s and ’30s, the U.K.’s Golden Cockerel Press hired Sangorski & Sutcliffe to bind limited editions of “The Canterbury Tales” and other titles. Around the same time, Caxton Press of Idaho published a number of signed, Morocco-leather Vardis Fisher books, some in editions as small as 10.

In recent decades, Easton Press has been producing large quantities of leather-bound books by contemporary authors as varied as Kurt Vonnegut and Maya Angelou. And in the 1970s and ’80s, the Franklin Mint’s Franklin Library division produced mass-market sets such as “The 100 Greatest Books of All Time” and “Pulitzer Prize Classics.”

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Google Book Search

Google Book Search

Want to do one quick search and pull up the mother lode of vintage books? Try Google Book Search, a database filled… [read review or visit site]

Bruce Black's gallery of paperback book covers from the 1940s and 50s. With help from numerous contributors, he's a… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Lot Of 9 Rare Leather Easton Press Mark Twain Tom Sawyer Huckleberry Finn A23How To Get Rich Donald Trump Easton Press Leather SignedChronicles Of Narnia C.s Lewis Set 5 Leather Easton Press Lion Witch Wardrobe 01Peerage Of England Scotland Ireland/1767/rare 1st Edit./5 Vols-fine Leather BndgThe Flowers And Gardens Of Japan By Du Cane 1908 -attractive Half Leather/vellumLot Of 3 Leather Easton Press Books Abraham Lincoln President History A19Old Leather Fine Bindings Lot 1800's Antique Decorative Set Victorian Dickens ++Lot Of 3 Leather Bound Easton Press Scifi Books Rare *signed* 1st Edition A20Lot Of 3 Leather Easton Press Books Fiction Fantasy Classic A18Easton Press Leather 5 Volume Set Martian Tales By Edgar Rice BurroughsRudyard Kipling Complete Set Fine Leather Binding Gilt Flowers Antique Books VtgFahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury Easton Press Leather Signed15 Book Lot Easton Press Franklin Library Full Leather Gilt Decorative 1 SignedLot Of 4 Rudyard Kipling Easton Press Leather Bound Novels Short Stories A43Lot Of 2 Leather Easton Press Books *signed* 1st Edition President History A21Easton Press Leather Memorial Edition Dune By Frank Herbert - Like NewLot Of 3 Leather Easton Press Books England Queen Elizabeth King Arthur A15Easton Press Leather The Foundation Trilogy Signed By Isaac Asimov - Like NewCivil War Beautiful Red Leather The Great Rebellion 2 Volumes 1864 1866 First EdEaston Press Leather Neuromancer By William Gibson - Like NewChronicles Of Narnia Cs Lewis Lot 4 Leather Easton Lion Witch Wardrobe A44Rare *signed* Death Of A Salesman Arthur Miller Leather Bound Easton Press A45Lot Of 3 Rare *signed 1st Edition* Leather Bound Easton Press Scifi Books A34History Of The Crusades By Proctor Easton Press LeatherLot Of 5 Easton Press Classics - Signed Leather Bound First Editions Gold EdgesEaston Press Leather The Man In The High Castle By Philip K. Dick - Like NewThe Time Machine H G Wells Leather Bound Easton Press Scifi A22Lot Of 29 Vintage Miniature Red Little Leather Library BooksEaston Press Leather The Martian Chronicles Signed By Ray Bradbury - Like NewLot Of 4 Rare *signed 1st Edition* Leather Easton Press Books Fiction A26Lot Of 2 Rare *signed 1st Edition* Leather Bound Easton Press Fiction Novels A351817 John Milton Paradise Lost Rare Old London Book Leather Binding Poetry PoemMyths Of The Hindus And Buddhists Leather Bound Easton Press Religion A30The Hunt For Red October Tom Clancy Easton Press LeatherEaston Press The Idiot Fyodor Dostoevsky Leather 1968 Famous Editions Mint/rare!Easton Press Through The Looking Glass By Lewis Carroll Leather Bound Leather Bound Holy Bible Dated 1856 With Brass Clasp History Of Bucaniers Of America *1810* Pirates West Indies Leather ExquemelinLot Of 2 Rare *signed* Leather Bound Easton Press Fiction Novels A311620 Leather Bound Demosthenis Orationes Olynthiacae Et Philipicae GraeceLds Triple Combination Holy Bible Invecchiato Leather Book Of Mormon ScripturesThe British Herald/1830/rare 1st Ed/54 Copper Engraved Plts/3 Fine Leather BindsJohn Calvin - Institutes Of The Christian Religion - 2 Volume Leather SetTom Sawyer Mark Twain Norman Rockwell Easton Press Leather Bound EditionGorgeous Full Shelf Of Leather Decorator Italian Bindings Lot CBacon's Liber Regis: Vel Thesaurus/1786/rare 1st Ed./morocco Leather Binding 11"Lot Of 5 Leather Bound Easton Press Baseball History Books A161833 Works Lord Byron 17vl Set Leather Finden Illus Don Juan Poetry Poems Books Easton Press Leather The Forever War By Joe Haldeman - Like NewGorgeous Full Shelf Of Leather Decorator Italian Bindings Lot AAlice's Adventures Wonderland & Looking-glass/riviere Fine Leather Binding/ RareLot Of 4 Leather Bound Easton Press Scifi Books Rare *2 Signed* 1st Edition A47Lot Of 4 Gold Leather Easton Press Civil War History Books A40Set Of 2 Leather Easton Press Civil War History Books Battle Cry Of Freedom A41Easton Press Leather Dragonflight By Anne Mccaffrey - Like NewSigned First Edition Easton Press Stranger Suns George Zebrowski Leather Rare!Ancient Very Old Handwritten Leather Bible, Look Like Over 1000 Years.1731 Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song Of Solomon Folio Leather Bible God $$Easton Press Leather War & Peace, By Leo Tolstoy, 1981 1035 Pp , Moving Sale1883 Works Nathaniel Hawthorne 12vl Set Leather Illus Scarlet Letter Tales Myth