I love to learn about the history of leatherworking. While there are an ever-growing amount of leatherworking resources online, there are still many areas of leathercraft that are difficult to find. I can access a nearly endless supply of articles and videos on beginning techniques. but there’s hardly anything available for different skiving methods or variations on mailbags and railway bags (which are the basis of many modern handbags).
To dive into the more obscure and sometimes seemingly lost aspects of leather goods making, I will turn to books. Out of print books can especially be a treasure trove of information if you can find them. To own them might be cost prohibitive, but there is a more inexpensive and often more plentiful source to be found in your local area’s libraries. There you can find a ton of books, available for free, on bag construction, techniques and the history of leatherworking. University libraries usually have the widest selections that can be accessible to non-students for nominal fees. Google books can often point you in the right direction of a physical book and sometimes has scans of more rare books. And when you’re not having any luck with local libraries, interlibrary loan services can further expand your selection. Below are few examples of books you can find.
Leather Secrets by F.O. Baird
Available at: University of North Texas Library, Dallas, TX.
General Leathercraft by Raymond Cherry
Available at: New York Public Library, New York, NY.
A First Book of Leatherworking by Paul Villard
Available at: Chicago Public Library, Chicago, IL.
Design and Construction of Handbags by WC Double
Available at: John F. Kennedy Library, Los Angeles, CA.
Available at: Google Books.