Hunt after book bound with human skin is found in street

Andrew Robinson POLICE in West Yorkshire are appealing for information about a 300-year-old book bound in human skin.

The ledger, which dates back to the 1700s, was recently found on the Headrow in Leeds and is thought to belong to someone in West or North Yorkshire. It may have been stolen in a burglary.

A police spokesman said: "The item is a ledger and dates back to the 1700s. It is written in mainly French and is believed to be covered in what is thought to be human skin."

Anyone with information is asked to call Det Sgt Tony Lewis on 01924 821585.

Pictures of the book are available on the website at

The binding of books in human skin, known as anthropodermic bibliopegy, is well documented, with many older libraries having such books in their collections.

In the 18th and 19th centuries it was quite common to bind accounts of murder trials in the murderer's skin. The practice was popular during the French Revolution.

One British hospital has an account of the trial, execution and dissection of John Horwood in 1821 bound in his skin, which was prepared by a local surgeon. Many recorded examples are medical books or volumes commissioned by medical men.