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    

Sir Walter Raleigh's History Of The World/*1628/*fine Leather Binding-folio 13"Franklin Library Huge Lot Of 42 Leather Books Quixote Fairytales St Augustine ++Folio Society Lord Of The Rings + Hobbit J R R Tolkien 4vols In Quarter LeatherEaston Press,lot Of 14; Dickens,jules Verne,twain,sophocles~leatherEaston Press William Faulkner 8-volume Leather-bound Set Hc Beautiful Books18th Century Leather Bindings 14 Books Nice Antique Lot Crebillon Moliere & MoreRare 1830 Antique Victorian Cookbook Cookery Recipes Beer Liqueur Game Leather18th Century Leather Bindings 8 Book Lot Antique Set With Gilt Very Decorative1899 Jane Austen Pride And Prejudice In Two Volumes Leather Bindings Victorian &Rare Geneva-*breeches Bible/1599/fine Full Calf Leather Binding/2 Title Pages1683 Certain Sermons Or Homilies - Queen Elizabeth - Full Leather - Large FolioCanterbury Tales *1798* Chaucer 2vols Tyrwhitt 2nd Leather1861 Antique Freemasonry Rituals Book  masonic Occult Freemason Leather * Rare *Physick & Chyrurgery/1671/englished By Nicholas Culpeper/folio-fine Leather Bndg*1714 Treatise On Watches & Clockwork By William Derham/*7 Foldouts/fine Leather73 Rare And Superb Antique Leather Bound Book Library+first EditionsIsaac Newton's Philosophy 1728 Folio 1st Ed Landmark Pemberton Full Orig LeatherStatecraft Margaret Thatcher Easton Press Leather Signed1831 Mutiny Of The Bounty - John Barrow - Leather - Engraved Plates - 1st Ed.Easton Press - Centennial - James Michener - 2 Vol - Leather Bound - Very RareNice Ornate Large 1859 Gold Gilt Bible Red Leather Brass Clasp Clean & TightLegends Of The Middle Ages Guerber Easton Press LeatherLot Of 28 1920's Robert K Hass Inc Publishers Little Leather Library PoetryEaston Press Dracula By Bram Stoker Leather Hardback Book 20051798 Large Holy Bible Full Leather No ReserveEaston Press Leather 1990 The Covenant By James Michener 2 Volume Set2 Antique Miniature Leather Bound Books German English Dictionary Liliput The Gods Themselves--isaac Asimov Easton Press Leather Edition New And SealedAntique Leather Bound 19th C Rollin's Ancient History 4 Vols Hannibal Xerxes YqzThomas Jefferson Dumas Malone 6vol Easton Press LeatherAll The Best By George Bush Easton Press Leather Signed1907 Nebraska Leather License Plate Very RareMiniature 1834 Leather Book Georgian Common Prayer Bible CollingwoodEaston Press, 12 Book Lot! Leather, New, Darwin, Poe, Doyle, Carroll, BronteAtlas Shrugged By Ayn Rand Easton Press Leather Illustrated Frank Mayo Set 2Easton Press The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald, F. Scott Leather Book 1991 PrintingThe Holy Bible King James Version Easton Press LeatherAntique 1904 Leather Thomas Jefferson Bible-life & Morals Jesus-racine Wi LinkThe Hunchback Of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo (easton Press) Leather-boundOxford Vintage 1955 Red Morocco/goatskin Concordance Leather Kjv Bible 2289x*magnificent Leather 1st Ed.1868 Idylls Of The King By Tennyson & Gustave Dore*1768 Decorative Leather Bindings 5 Vol Set French History Histoire De France1726 Leather Books Fine Bindings 5 Vol Set Jesuit Sermons Of Pere BourdaloueValley Forge: The Making Of An Army Easton Press LeatherAutobiography Of Gerald Ford Easton Press Leather Signed1835 Holy Bible Lancaster Pennsylvania Tree Calf Leather Antique Keith FamilyTour In Lapland/1811/rare 1st Edition/james Smith/2 Fine Leather BindingsFranklin Library, Lot Of 15, Quarter Leather/full Leather Swift,eliot,austenRichard Adams Watership Down Signed Limited Edition 1976 Leather Bound1752 Leather Fine Binding 5 Vol Set Spinoza Preuves De La Religion Jesus ChristRare. Lincolnshire By Thomas Cox, 1720 1st Edn. Leather Bound With Morden Map.Legend Of Sleepy Hollow 1891 Leather BoundAntique Life Of Abraham Lincoln By J.g. Holland Leather Bound Civil War Book 1888 Antique Old West Book Cowboys Indians Gold Mining Pacific Railroad LeatherPeter The Great - Henri Troyat - Easton Press Library Of Great Lives - LeatherJohn Dryden 1784 3 Volumes Fine Leather Binding PoetryEaston Press Full Leather Grimm's Fairy Tales Illustrated Lucillecorcos 1980?Old Antique German Bible Leather Wood Cover With Brass Leather Clasps No Reserve1899 Les Miserables 5 Volume Leather Set Fine Binding Victor Hugo Jean ValjeanThe Judges By Elie Wiesel Easton Press Leather Signed