Little Leather Library

If you are confused about different types of Little Leather Library books,
see the Little Leather Library Identification Guide.

The Little Leather Library Corporation of New York was founded in 1916. Its business was innovative at the time by being among the first to market inexpensive books to a national audience, to use direct consumer sales through the U. S. Postal System, and to use national media advertisements in mass market subscription magazines. The brief history of this business brackets the United States direct involvement in Word War I, a rapidly changing economic environment, and a growing technology that ultimately replaced the genuine leather book covers that were the basis for the business name, Little Leather Library, with fake leather covers made with a DuPont Chemical product.

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

  1. Books of the Bible in 30 volumes
  2. - Fairy Tales
  3. - Fifty Best Poems of America
  4. - Fifty Best Poems of England
  5. - Mother Goose Rhymes
  6. - Words of Jesus
  7. Allen, James - As a man Thinketh
  8. Balzac, Honore - Christ in Flanders and Other Stories
  9. Barrie, James - A Tillyloss Scandal
  10. Browning, Elizabeth - Sonnets From the Portugese
  11. Browning, Robert - Pippa Passes
  12. Browning, Robert - Poems and Plays
  13. Burns, Robert - The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns
  14. Burton, Richard F. - trans. - Tales From the Arabian Nights, Vol I
  15. Burton, Richard F. - trans - Tales From the Arabian Nights, Vol II
  16. Carroll, Lewis - Alice In Wonderland
  17. Carroll, Lewis - Through the Looking Glass
  18. Coleridge, Samuel - The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other Poems
  19. Dante - Inferno, Vol. I
  20. Dante - Inferno, Vol. II
  21. de Maupassant, Guy - Short Stories
  22. de Quincey, Thomas - Confessions of an Opium Eater Vol I
  23. de Quincey, Thomas - Confessions of an Opium Eater Vol II
  24. Dickens, Charles - A Christmas Carol
  25. Doyle, Arthur Conan - Sherlock Holmes, A Case of Identity and Scandal in Bohemia
  26. Drummand, Henry - The Greatest Thing in the World
  27. Dumas, Alexandre - The Comtesse de Saint-Geran
  28. Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Essays
  29. Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Uses of Great Men
  30. Fitzgerald - trans. - The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
  31. Gilbert, W. S. - Bab Ballads
  32. Hale, Edward - Man Without a Country
  33. Hubbard, Elbert - A Message to Garcia
  34. Hugo, Victor - Last Days of a Condemned Man
  35. Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
  36. Ibsen, Henrik - Ghosts
  37. Irving, Washington - Old Christmas
  38. Irving, Washington - Rip Van Winkle
  39. Kielty, Bernardine - The Sidewalks of New York
  40. Kipling, Rudyard - At the End of the Passage and The Mutiny of the Mavericks
  41. Kipling, Rudyard - City Of Dreadful Night and Other Stories
  42. Kipling, Rudyard - Barrack Room Ballads
  43. Kipling, Rudyard - Finest Story In the World
  44. Kipling, Rudyard - Mulvanney Stories
  45. Kipling, Rudyard - The Man Who Was and Other Stories
  46. Kipling, Rudyard - The Mark of the Beast and The Head of the District
  47. Kipling, Rudyard - The Phantom Rickshaw and My Own True Ghost Story
  48. Kipling, Rudyard - Vampire and Other Verses
  49. Kipling, Rudyard - Without Benefit of Clergy
  50. Lamb, Charles - Dream Children
  51. Lincoln, Abraham - Speeches and Addresses
  52. Longfellow. Henry - Evangeline
  53. Longfellow. Henry - Hiawatha, Vol I
  54. Longfellow. Henry - Hiawatha, Vol II
  55. Longfellow. Henry - The Courtship of Miles Standish
  56. Macaulay,Thomas - Lays of Ancient Rome
  57. Maeterlinck, Maurice - Pelleas and Melisande
  58. Merimee, Prosper - Carmen
  59. Moore, Thomas - Irish Melodies
  60. Morris, William - A Dream Of John Ball
  61. Plato - The Trial of Socrates
  62. Poe, Edgar Allan - The Gold Bug
  63. Poe, Edgar Allan - The Murders In the Rue Morgue
  64. Poe, Edgar Allan - The Raven and Other Poems
  65. Schreiber, Olive - Dreams
  66. Shakespeare, William - A Comedy of Errors
  67. Shakespeare, William - As You Like It
  68. Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
  69. Shakespeare, William - Julius Caesar
  70. Shakespeare, William - King Lear
  71. Shakespeare, William - MacBeth
  72. Shakespeare, William - Merchant of Venice
  73. Shakespeare, William - Merry Wives of Windsor
  74. Shakespeare, William - Midsummer Nights Dream
  75. Shakespeare, William - Othello
  76. Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
  77. Shakespeare, William - Sonnets
  78. Shakespeare, William - The Taming of the Shrew
  79. Shakespeare, William - The Tempest
  80. Shakespeare, William - Twelfth Night
  81. Shaw, George Bernard - On Going to Church
  82. Shaw, George Bernard - Socialism for Millionaires
  83. Stevenson, Robert Louis - A Child's Garden of Verses
  84. Stevenson, Robert Louis - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  85. Stevenson, Robert Louis - Will O' the Mill and Markheim
  86. Tennyson, Alfred - Enoch Arden
  87. Tennyson, Alfred - Lancelot and Elaine
  88. Tennyson, Alfred - The Coming of Arthur
  89. Tennyson, Alfred - The Holy Grail (Idylls of the King)
  90. Thomson, James - City of Dreadful Night
  91. Thoreau, Henry - Friendship and Other Essays
  92. Tolstoi, Leo - The Bear Hunt and Other Stories
  93. Turgenev, Ivan - Mumu
  94. Washington, George - Speeches and Letters
  95. Whitman, Walt - Memories of President Lincoln
  96. Whittier, John Greenleaf - Snowbound and Other Poems
  97. Wilde, Oscar - Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Poems
  98. Wilde, Oscar - Lady Windermere's Fan
  99. Wilde, Oscar - Salome
  100. Wilde, Oscar - The Happy Prince
  101. Wilde, Oscar - The Importance of Being Earnest
  102. Yeats, William - Land of Hearts Desire