Lambskin Library

Doubleday, Page and Company (New York, US)
Series dates: 1922-1934
Size: 4.75″ x 7.25

lambskin_logo2In an April 19, 1922 letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his publisher at Scribner, Fitzgerald makes an argument for a “Scribners Library” series which would, of course, include some of his books. (Scribner did have the Modern Students Library, but those were all older classics) In the process, Fitzgerald writes that Doubleday had withdrawn several of its titles that had been in Boni & Liveright’s very successful Modern Library, and initiated their own Lambskin Library. The Lambskin Library, writes Fitzgerald, are “all books that at one time or another have been sensational either as popular successes or as possible contributions to American Literature. The Lambskin Library is cheap, bound uniformly in red leather (or imitation leather) and makes, I believe, a larger appeal to  the buyer than the A.L. Burt reprints, for its uniformity gives it a sort of permanence, a place of honor in the scraggly library that adorns every small home. Besides that, it is a much easier thing for a bookseller to display and keep up. The titles are numbered and it gives people a chance to sample writers by one book in this edition. Also it keeps before the public such books as have once been popular and have since been forgotten.” (Collected Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, 2015).

Fitzgerald nicely sums up what must have been on the minds of many publishers when they initiated reprint series and is a rather substantive bit of thinking on the topic by a significant author. He was, however, not quite correct in his claim of titles Doubleday had withdrawn agreement to publish in the Modern Library. This happened with several publishers, but none of the initial 49 titles in the Lambskin Library were in the early Modern Library. However, a selection of the Lambskin Library titles were eventually included in the Sun Dial Library, which was published by the Doubleday subsidiary Garden City Publishing. Some of these titles were actively sought by Bennett Cerf for the Modern Library in the early 1930s, and Cerf acquired the entire Sun Dial Library to get the rights to publish these titles (titles originally from the Lambskin Library include Conrad, Lord Jim and Victory, McFee, Casuals of the Sea, Morley, Parnassus on Wheels, and Stoker, Dracula).

lambskin_logo

The aforementioned Lambskin Library was initially published By Doubleday in 1922 and advertised in dozens of periodicals at the time. The advert stressed the same litany of high quality literature in a high quality book for less than $1.

The_World_s_Work
Ad for the Lambskin Library from Worlds Work, vol. 44, 1922

Myra Kelly’s Little Citizens was published in 1925 and was the 49th title in the series. The jackets are common to the series, and all I have seen are designed the same as this copy.  Brick-red ink, the series title at the top of the front of the jacket, and, in this case, “Bound in Imported English Red Leather” has been overprinted on the jacket. It’s possible the dark box on the spine is also an overprint (of the price?). A summary of the title is included on the front jacket flap.

lambskin_djfront

Titles in the series are listed on the jacket back and flap.

lambskin_djback

The earlier “lambskin leather” bindings have been replaced by cheaper blue cloth with black decorations.

lambskin_bind

Endpapers are printed in brick-red with a Doubleday Page logo.

lambskin_endp

The half-title page:

lambskin_halftit

The title page includes the date of publication.

lambskin_tit

The copyright page includes copyright information as well as printing details.

lambskin_cw

A 2 page catalog in the back of the book illustrates a fine gentleman reading a copy of a Lambskin Library book. 49 titles are listed.

lambskin_cat1

lambskin_cat2

The series reached at least 58 titles by 1928. The series seems to have lasted until about 1934.