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]

Bookscans.com

Bookscans.com

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    

1901 Antique 14 Volume Set Johann Goethe Leather Bound Books Engravings, NrMark Twain Complete Works Fine Binding Set 1st Ed Huckleberry Finn Like LeatherMiniature Leather Victorian London Almanac Almanach Book 1880 & Case CalendarWorks Of The Late Doctor Benjamin Franklin - Vol.i & Ii Leather Bound 1799 EditAntique 1819 Georgian English Cookery Book Leather-bound Old Regency Food DrinkEaston Press, Lot Of 9, Leather, Whitman, Thoreau, Keats, Stevenson, CassattEaston Press The History Of America Page Smith 6 Volumes Full Leather Binding Cambridge Kjv Presentation Bible Leather Binding. Mint!Pennant *1782* Journey Chester To London Engravings Architecture Leather BuildngEaston Press Leather Bound Enders Game, Orson S. Card, Collector Ed.1872 Picturesque America 2 Vol Set William Cullen Bryant Leather Bound BooksMiniature Leather Bound Illustrated Holy Bible By Newbery, London 17801863 Unique Holy Bible Superb Ornate Leather Opaque With Pierced Brass EdgesOld Antique Leather Bound Book The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling 1900 IllustratedThe Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky - Easton Press 100 Greatest - Leather76 Rare And Superb Antique Leather Bound Book Library+limited Editions+englishCollection Of 35 Leather Bound Books 1783 Early Decorative Shakespeare BiblesEaston Press Leather Bound Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, Collector Ed.The Sea Wolf - Jack London - Illus. Martin - Easton Press 100 Greatest Leather Slaughterhouse Five Signed # Deluxe Edition Kurt Vonnegut Easton Press LeatherOxford English Dictionary Leather Set Limited Ed Oed Compact Franklin Library1924 Works Of Robert Louis Stevenson, Tusitala Edition, 20 Vols Leather BindingsAntique Miniature Leather Bible King James Psalms Prophets Jesus New Testament The Essays Of Ralph Waldo Emerson - Easton Press 100 Greatest Books Leather1651 - Small Holy Bible - Early Fore Edge Design - Original Tooled Leather !!!!Antique Victorian Leather-bound Book Insect Butterfly Moth Natural History Guide1741 Catholic Church Prayer Book Of Hours Vespers Morocco Leather Binding 3v Set1788 Full Leather Fine Binding David Hume's Essays And Treatises Several SubjectStephen King : Under The Dome - Leather SlipcaseThe Essays Of Sir Frances Bacon - Easton Press 100 Greatest Books LeatherMiniature Antique Poetry Book - Leather Cover 1840Rare 1672 Dated Leather Bound King Charles Almanac - No Reserve See Many PhotosThe Prince - Machiavelli - Easton Press 100 Greatest Books - Leather Pride And Prejudice - Jane Austen - Easton Press 100 Greatest Books LeatherEaston Press Jay Monaghan General Custer Leather Ribbed Spine Gold EdgesLeather Bound Book Lot. Easton Press, Classics Of Liberty, Etc. Huge 7 Book LotDuck Dynasty Phil Robertson Signed Book Unphiltered With Deluxe Leather EastonJack Van Impe Prophecy Bible (special Limited Ed. In Red Leather)C1865 - The Illustrated Family Bible - Morocco Leather Bound - Fully IllustratedEaston Press Leather Gone With The Wind Margaret MitchellRare 1866 Leather Abraham Lincoln Civil War Illustrated First Edition Gift IdeaAntique Books: Little Leather Library 3 By Edgar Allen Poe. Raven1980 Jack London Call Of The Wild Easton Press Lmtd Ed Collectors Gilt Leather Vintage Leatherworkers Leather Working Home Made Instruction/teaching BookCambridge Niv Wide Margin Reference Bible Leather Binding. Mint! Nivwm2071823 Old New Testament Jews Middle East Israel Judah Leather W/ Maps 3 Vols Nr1989 Isak Dinesen Out Of Africa Easton Press Lmtd Ed Collectors Gilt Leather Antique 1835 Illustrated Leather Holy Bible Old & New Testement Andrue & JuddEaston Press The Odyssey Homer Collector's Edition Genuine Leather NewRonald Reagan Speaking My Mind Signed Limited Edition Easton Press New Leather Vintage Zondervan Kjv Bible Morocco Goatskin Leather Large Type Rare Oop! SilverC.1890 Handwritten Album "undine" A German Fairy Tale - Leather Binding VgcRare Early Edition Antique Book Of Mormon Deseret News Co., Utah 1885: Leather1857 Octavius Winslow No Condemnation In Christ Jesus - Stunning Leather! Rare!Easton Press Autographed Jimmy Carter Leather Ribbed Spine Gold EdgesGallery Of Portraits (168 Plates): With Memoirs, 7 Volumes. 1833 To 1837 LeatherJohn Eadie Holy Bible Large Family Bible 1880 Chromo Leather Brass ClaspsGeorge Bush All The Best Signed Easton Press Sealed Brand New Leather BoundEaston Press Leather Brave New World Gold Gilded Aldous HuxleyEaston Press Carl Sandburg Abraham Lincoln Leather Ribbed Spine Gold Edges