see the Little Leather Library Identification Guide.
The books themselves are diminutive and sometimes abridged editions of public domain works, not protected by copyright and for which no author royalty payments were required. The same titles were issued and re-issued in different types of bindings and covers over the years. The earlier editions were more expensively produced and were sold separately. Today, these editions are more rare and valuable. In the years following W.W.I. into the 1920's the books were more cheaply produced in larger quantities and sold in large sets of different titles in various combinations. These later editions are less rare and less valuable to collectors today.
Little Leather Library History
The Little Leather Library Corporation of New York was founded in 1916 by Albert Boni, Harry Scherman and Maxwell Sackheim. It was one of the first attempts to mass-market inexpensive books in the United States. The selection of book titles included in the Little Leather Library collection was generally limited to older classics for which the publisher did not pay any copyright royalties.
Soon after the Little Leather Library was founded, Albert Boni sold his interest in the business and went on to establish the Modern Library publishing company, which ultimately spawned Random House Publishers as a subsidiary company.
Initially the books were sold through the Woolworth's chain of retail stores. This first two editions of the Little Leather Library volumes appear to have been bound in real leather. The retail price for these first editions is not known.
By the early 1920's the Little Leather Library was being advertised in popular magazines and sold directly by mail order. There is some indication that single volumes were included as promotional items in cereal boxes as a means of advertising the collection.
The books were advertised on the back cover of National Geographic magazine ten different months from January 1922 to October 1924. By then the genuine leather covers originally used had been replaced with an early type of imitation leather consisting of latex coated canvas on the outside with flocking on the inside. No doubt this change was made to reduce the cost of the books.
A 1922 advertisement for the Little Leather Library stated, "the binding is a beautiful embossed Croft which, though NOT leather, looks even more handsome, and more durable."
In 1923 the Little Leather Library Corporation published "The Sidewalks of New York" by Bernardine Kielty for the Bowman Hotels of New York City for use by the hotels' guests.
A boxed set of 30 of the little faux leather volumes could be purchased for about $3.00 plus postage, insurance and C.O.D. charges. .
Sometime between March 1924 and October 1924, Robert K. Haas, Inc., Publishers took over the Little Leather Library collection, at the same New York business address. Mr. Robert Haas had joined the original Little Leather Library Corporation in 1922 and he also later worked with Scherman and Sackheim at the Book of the Month Club.
Hass continued to sell the inventory of green "Redcroft" books (Type III) at least through the middle of 1925. When the supply of green books was exhausted, Haas re-issued the volumes with red leatherette covers. On these red books, Haas changed the name to "Little Luxart Library."
Scherman and Sackheim, the other two co-founders of the Little Leather Library, continued with the business until Haas took it over in 1924. They also helped create the Book of the Month Club in 1926.
There appears to have been at least four different editions of the Little Leather Library. The least commonly seen these days were the early editions bound in genuine leather that were sold through retail stores. The green and red mail order version are more plentiful.
Titles Published by the Little Leather Library
There are at least 101 identified titles, plus the 30 books of the Bible, which were published by the Little Leather Library. Each of these titles were not available in each of the different editions or different types of covers, produced under the Little Leather Library and Little Luxart Library names.
See: Little Leather Library Identification Guide
- Books of the Bible in 30 volumes
- - Fairy Tales
- - Fifty Best Poems of America
- - Fifty Best Poems of England
- - Mother Goose Rhymes
- - Words of Jesus
- Allen, James - As a man Thinketh
- Balzac, Honore - Christ in Flanders and Other Stories
- Barrie, James - A Tillyloss Scandal
- Browning, Elizabeth - Sonnets From the Portugese
- Browning, Robert - Pippa Passes
- Browning, Robert - Poems and Plays
- Burns, Robert - The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns
- Burton, Richard F. - trans. - Tales From the Arabian Nights, Vol I
- Burton, Richard F. - trans - Tales From the Arabian Nights, Vol II
- Carroll, Lewis - Alice In Wonderland
- Carroll, Lewis - Through the Looking Glass
- Coleridge, Samuel - The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other Poems
- Dante - Inferno, Vol. I
- Dante - Inferno, Vol. II
- de Maupassant, Guy - Short Stories
- de Quincey, Thomas - Confessions of an Opium Eater Vol I
- de Quincey, Thomas - Confessions of an Opium Eater Vol II
- Dickens, Charles - A Christmas Carol
- Doyle, Arthur Conan - Sherlock Holmes, A Case of Identity and Scandal in Bohemia
- Drummand, Henry - The Greatest Thing in the World
- Dumas, Alexandre - The Comtesse de Saint-Geran
- Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Essays
- Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Uses of Great Men
- Fitzgerald - trans. - The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
- Gilbert, W. S. - Bab Ballads
- Hale, Edward - Man Without a Country
- Hubbard, Elbert - A Message to Garcia
- Hugo, Victor - Last Days of a Condemned Man
- Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
- Ibsen, Henrik - Ghosts
- Irving, Washington - Old Christmas
- Irving, Washington - Rip Van Winkle
- Kielty, Bernardine - The Sidewalks of New York
- Kipling, Rudyard - At the End of the Passage and The Mutiny of the Mavericks
- Kipling, Rudyard - City Of Dreadful Night and Other Stories
- Kipling, Rudyard - Barrack Room Ballads
- Kipling, Rudyard - Finest Story In the World
- Kipling, Rudyard - Mulvanney Stories
- Kipling, Rudyard - The Man Who Was and Other Stories
- Kipling, Rudyard - The Mark of the Beast and The Head of the District
- Kipling, Rudyard - The Phantom Rickshaw and My Own True Ghost Story
- Kipling, Rudyard - Vampire and Other Verses
- Kipling, Rudyard - Without Benefit of Clergy
- Lamb, Charles - Dream Children
- Lincoln, Abraham - Speeches and Addresses
- Longfellow. Henry - Evangeline
- Longfellow. Henry - Hiawatha, Vol I
- Longfellow. Henry - Hiawatha, Vol II
- Longfellow. Henry - The Courtship of Miles Standish
- Macaulay,Thomas - Lays of Ancient Rome
- Maeterlinck, Maurice - Pelleas and Melisande
- Merimee, Prosper - Carmen
- Moore, Thomas - Irish Melodies
- Morris, William - A Dream Of John Ball
- Plato - The Trial of Socrates
- Poe, Edgar Allan - The Gold Bug
- Poe, Edgar Allan - The Murders In the Rue Morgue
- Poe, Edgar Allan - The Raven and Other Poems
- Schreiber, Olive - Dreams
- Shakespeare, William - A Comedy of Errors
- Shakespeare, William - As You Like It
- Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
- Shakespeare, William - Julius Caesar
- Shakespeare, William - King Lear
- Shakespeare, William - MacBeth
- Shakespeare, William - Merchant of Venice
- Shakespeare, William - Merry Wives of Windsor
- Shakespeare, William - Midsummer Nights Dream
- Shakespeare, William - Othello
- Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
- Shakespeare, William - Sonnets
- Shakespeare, William - The Taming of the Shrew
- Shakespeare, William - The Tempest
- Shakespeare, William - Twelfth Night
- Shaw, George Bernard - On Going to Church
- Shaw, George Bernard - Socialism for Millionaires
- Stevenson, Robert Louis - A Child's Garden of Verses
- Stevenson, Robert Louis - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- Stevenson, Robert Louis - Will O' the Mill and Markheim
- Tennyson, Alfred - Enoch Arden
- Tennyson, Alfred - Lancelot and Elaine
- Tennyson, Alfred - The Coming of Arthur
- Tennyson, Alfred - The Holy Grail (Idylls of the King)
- Thomson, James - City of Dreadful Night
- Thoreau, Henry - Friendship and Other Essays
- Tolstoi, Leo - The Bear Hunt and Other Stories
- Turgenev, Ivan - Mumu
- Washington, George - Speeches and Letters
- Whitman, Walt - Memories of President Lincoln
- Whittier, John Greenleaf - Snowbound and Other Poems
- Wilde, Oscar - Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Poems
- Wilde, Oscar - Lady Windermere's Fan
- Wilde, Oscar - Salome
- Wilde, Oscar - The Happy Prince
- Wilde, Oscar - The Importance of Being Earnest
- Yeats, William - Land of Hearts Desire