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Original Issue

An in-time-for-Christmas look at the bright world of leather

Leather is very much the thing these days, whether to sit on, to travel with or to wear. A perusal of shops that specialize in leather—Gucci, Mark Cross, the Hermes boutique at Lord & Taylor and Dunhill Tailors—turns up an intriguing assortment of specialty items for travel.

For the armchair traveler, for instance, Bloomingdale's has the most out-country British officer's chair you ever saw. It is made in the Orient of luxuriously soft hide and comes in assorted subdued colors. The frame is of antiqued oak which looks more like teak. With brass hardware on the joints and at the base, it is sturdy enough to have survived the Boxer Rebellion. Six week delivery, $275.

For travelers who hate to wait for their airplane luggage a number of attractive new cases at Mark Cross are just the right size to slip under a plane seat". These are efficient two-in-one kits in which you can carry your important papers and still have room left for your overnight essentials.

An attaché case called the Standby in tan hide ($98.50), or pigskin ($120, both plus tax) can become an overnighter with the addition of a fitted moiré-lined case in which there are spaces for light clothes. An oilsilklined, zippered compartment also comes in the case. You can pack it and be ever ready for the next time you have to go out of town in a hurry.

The well-organized overnight case for women (below) has a side-pocket space for magazines. On the underside of the lid there is a velvet-lined pocket for jewelry, and a removable waterproof pocket for toiletries. In natural-colored Novo calf, finished with kidlike softness, it measures 18 by 13¼ by 6½ inches and weighs six pounds. $120 plus tax.

The man's case called Ambassador has the appearance of an overnight bag with two outside packets. There is an outside zippered pocket on one side, and a pocket containing a zippered portfolio on the other. The case is fully leather lined, has leather side gussets and double leather handles. In black, brown or tan, it measures 18 by 13 by 5 inches. $115 plus tax.

For long-distance lights Mark Cross is showing a shoulder bag for men or women, and they are calling it, for better or worse, the Boodle bag. It comes either in tan or black twill with hand-boarded hide trim, or all hide. It zips across the top and is large enough (16 by 8½ by 6½ inches) to catch sizable last minute extras. In twill, $13.50; hide, $26.50, both plus tax.

The soft walnut-colored leather, which Gucci rather disarmingly names after itself, appears in a number of new cases that should be of particular interest for sports enthusiasts. Shown here is a woman's spectator bag which has a full zipper closing. It is brass-fastened and has a saddle-cinch-webbing shoulder strap in various colors. One strap we saw was in burgundy and dark green. The bag is large enough to hold field glasses, a thermos, scarves, gloves, camera, etc. It measures about 17 by 13¼ inches. $35 plus tax.

The most luxurious tennis racket case in town is made of the same soft brown leather. It is zippered, has a zippered tennis-ball pocket and retails at Gucci for $36 plus tax.

The kind of suède that is "French-wheeled" seems at first touch to be as soft as fresh dough. Dunhill Tailors on 57th Street has it in a man's country coat imported from France. Continental details are rampant here: two patch pockets plus a ticket pocket, notched, stitched lapels, side vents and a button-on-back belt that can be removed. In cocoa suède, it is a lot of dash for $190.

Equally buttery are the French calfskins that Hermes uses and Lord & Taylor has at the main floor boutique. All of the Hermes appointments are handmade, the choice is wide. One gem is a simple calfskin portfolio, flat-folded, zipper-closed, with handsome brass lock. It is $38 plus tax.

A traveling handbag in the customary Hermes shape is extra deep to accommodate a jewel box which can be removed for deposit in a hotel safe upon arrival. It has a ruby velvet lining and zipped closing. The largest of three sizes is 32 inches and $94. Its matching jewel case is $77, both plus tax. They come in three colors: acajou (wine), black and natural.

A smaller gift in the same fine calfskin is an agenda book with two separate sections for appointments and addresses. It is packaged with a year's supply of refills dated in three-month sections (to cut down on bulk). Gold-leaf-edged pages are $3 per pack; a sterling silver pencil, $2 plus tax, and the notebook itself $11 plus tax.