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.
Leather Manufacture: A Treatise on the Practical Workings of the Leather Manufacture by John W. Stevens
Available at: Google Books.
Fantastic. Thank you for sharing this information. I’ve spent a lot of time researching to find books on leather working. This is an interesting bit of info. Wouldn’t it be marvey if someone would make these available in a downloadable form online?
Hi Marlys! Thanks for chiming in. I’d be curious to know what other leatherworking books you’ve searched for and where you typically find them. And I agree: we’d love to see a downloadable form online!
I mostly do a general search for leather working books. My interest is in handbag and small leather accessories. A site called pdfclassicbooks.com is where I found a few out of print older books. I like to read about the old leatherworking techniques. When it comes to bespoke leather working, I find the ancient methods and even the styles are pretty much timeless. After all form and function certainly have to dictate “style” to a degree. 🙂
We completely agree!
And thanks for being a great resource to the community, Marlys. We’ll check out pdfclassicbooks.com. We appreciate your contribution!
My name Is Germán Mantilla from Bogota. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The following are some good titule books related to leather, and leather work.
– Art et techniques du cuir ( Jean Louis Peyre et Raphael Rivard). Editions Vial.
– Sacs & accessoires en cuir cousus main ( Kouniko Notani). Les editions de sxe.
– Cuir & Parchemin
Ou la metamorphose de la peau.
(Claire Chahine). CNRS EDITIONS.
I hope this will help some one.
Awesome! Thanks, German. I always appreciate your contribution!
At one point I built up a library of about 16,000 books with a large section dedicated to bookbinding and leatherwork and Leatherworking tools of the 16th-19thC. One morning as I was reading (then drifting to sleep in my recliner) a fire broke out in the wall of the ground floor quickly rising to the outside up to the attic and through the house. The dog woke me and only a quick sprint near the the flames to the door save us both but I literally shook and cried as I watched my lifelong passion of collecting books, art, leather, sewing machines and home burned to the foundation in 15 minutes. Two full fire depts ran into the flames but lost the battle in a fire that burned metal into vapor!
I know those books will never be available again, most being only in museums. So if you have them, guard them with specialized fire retardant systems! Because for me it never happened in over 30 homes over 40 years…..until it did! And then they were gone.
Wow….what a dramatic story and such a tragedy, Ezra! I’m so sorry. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been. Most importantly, I’m glad that you and your family (and dog) are okay. Have you started re-collecting?
I have a copy of the “Design and Construction of Handbags” by W. Double. It is fairly intricate in its explanation of procedures. It is perfect for making formal handbags with linings and interlinings. At one time, it was part of the curriculum at “Cordwainers School” in England.
Congrats on that find! We’re always keeping our eyes peeled!
Thanks for finally writing about this. Loved it!
Sure thing, Harriet! Thanks for taking the time to read.
I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else experiencing issues with
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Hi Theda. Thanks for the feedback and I’m really sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with the text running off of the screen. Everything looks square on our end. Have you tried changing your screen resolution or altering the zoom in your browser window?
Very nice blog post. I absolutely appreciate this site.
Thanks for reading and for your encouragement!