Lambskin Library

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

lambskin_logo2An April 19, 1922 letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his publisher at¬†Scribner¬†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the Modern Students Library, but those were all older classics) In the process, Fitzgerald writes¬†that Doubleday had withdrawn several of its titles that had been in Boni & Liveright’s very successful Modern Library, and initiated their own Lambskin Library.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 He was, however, not quite correct in his claim of titles Doubleday had withdrawn agreement to publish in the Modern Library.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 subset of the Lambskin Library titles were eventually included in the Sun Dial Library, which was published by the Doubleday subsidiary Garden City Publishing.¬†It’s possible that some of the plates used to print Lambskin Library titles were reused for the Sun Dial Library.

Some of Sun Dial 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 a half dozen 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).


Titles in the Lambskin Library were 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 90 cents.

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

I can document 60 titles in the Lambskin Library. Two of those titles are in two volumes. The series numbering is inconsistent, as Doubleday revised the series numbering and titles at least twice. The numbering is from a list in the back of¬†Myra Kelly’s Little Citizens¬†published in 1925 (see below). The “previous” numbering noted after some titles are from a 1924 edition of The Magnificent Ambersons (source). I’ve added years of publication when I can find them, but many of the titles were published without dates.

1. Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad (#9 previously)
2. Youth, by Joseph Conrad
3. Bob, Son of Battle, by Alfred Ollivant (#2 previously)
4. Lorna Doone (2 vols.), by R.D. Blackmore (#22 & #23 previously)
5. Trimmed Lamp, by O. Henry (#20 previously)
6. Dracula, by Bram Stoker (#5 previously)
7. Adventures in Contentment, by David Grayson (#1 previously)
8. Ruggles of Red Gap, by Harry Leon Wilson (1924) (#16 previously)
9. Casuals of the Sea, by William McFee (1922)  (#3 previously)
10. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by Nathan H. Dole (#29 previously)
11. Magnificent Ambersons, by Booth Tarkington (1924) (#10 previously)
12. Mother, by Kathleen Norris (1924) (#11 previously)
13. Haunted Bookshop, by Christopher Morley (1926) (#38 previously)
14. Story of My Life, by Helen Keller (#19 previously)
15. Cheerful by Request, by Edna Ferber (1924) (#4 previously)
16. Story of Gosta Berling, by Selma Lagerlof (#18 previously)
17. Stamboul Nights, by H. G. Dwight (1922) (#17 previously)
18. Up From Slavery, by Booker T. Washington (#21 previously)
19. Pieces of Eight, by Richard Le Gallienne (#13 previously)
20. The Pit, by Frank Norris (1922) (#14 previously)
21. Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (#25 previously)
22. Gold, by Stewart Edward White (#7 previously)
23. The Octopus, by Frank Norris (1922) (#12 previously)
24. Romola, by George Eliot (#31 previously)
25. Impressions of Theodore Roosevelt, by Lawrence F. Abbott (#8 previously)
26. Riverman, by Stewart Edward White (#15 previously)
27. Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell (#33 previously)
28. Further Side of Silence, by Sir Hugh Clifford (#6 previously)
29. Bunker Bean, by Harry Leon Wilson (#34 previously)
30. Return of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (#42 previously)
31. Ayesha, by H. Rider Haggard (#39 previously)
32. Blazed Trail, by Stewart Edward White (#43 previously)
33. Fruitfulness, by Emile Zola (#41 previously)
34. The Kentucky Warbler, by James Lane Allen (#37 previously)
35. Virginia, by Ellen Glasgow (#35 previously)
36. A Journey to Nature, by J.P. Mowbray (#40 previously)
37. A Year in a Yawl, by Russell Doubleday (1923) (#36 previously)
38. McTeague, by Frank Norris
39. Best Stories in the World, by Thos. L. Masson
40. Gentleman from Indiana, by Booth Tarkington
41. Christopher and Columbus, by “Elizabeth”
42. Potash and Perlmutter, by Montague Glass
43. Ma Pettengill, by Harry Leon Wilson
44. My Boyhood, by John Burroughs
45. Red Saunders, by Henry Wallace Phillips (1924)
46. Through the Magic Door, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
47. Blix, by Frank Norris
48. Parnassus on Wheels, by Christopher Morley (1927)
49. Little Citizens, by Myra Kelly (1925)
50. Fiery Particles, by C.E. Montague
51. The Romance of a Plain Man, by Ellen Glasgow (1926)
52. The Recording Angel, by Corra Harris (1926)
53. The Hound of the Baskervilles, by A. Conan Doyle (1926)
54. Monsieur Beaucaire, by Booth Tarkington

Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard H. Dana (#24 previously)
Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (#26 previously)
Three Musketeers (2 volumes), by Alexandre Dumas (#27 & #28 previously)
Tales from Shakespeare, by Charles & Mary Lamb (#30 previously)
Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott (#32 previously)
Legend, by Clemence Dane

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.


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


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


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


The half-title page:


The title page includes the date of publication.


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


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.



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