Book-straps were very commonly used by students in the late 19th/early 20th century to carry a relatively small number of books to and from school.

I've consulted several 19th and early 20th century French-English dictionaries, and performed very exhaustive searches on eBay.fr and other antiques-related French websites, but can't find the exact term I'm looking for.

'Un porte-livre' (a term that is still in use in modern French, from what I gather) seems to be a stationary stand for holding a book on a table, etc., and the term (based on my research) meant the same thing in the 19th century. 'Un etui de livre' also still seems to be in use in modern French, but (at least nowadays) seems to mean a more solid/substantial (i.e., not composed of straps, with large gaps between them) carrier for a book (or even for a small electronic device, etc.). The latter term was used in the 19th century, but I'm not certain what specific meaning it had then.

'Un sangle de livre(s)' (or 'des sangles de livre(s)') does not seem to have been in use the 19th or even early 20th century, though I've found this term being used in modern French to refer to an antique book-strap, or at least a modern reproduction of one.

Any suggestions of possible words (or compounds) that anyone has to offer would be very much appreciated!

  • Did students in France use book-straps in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? If not, they wouldn't have needed a word for them. Jul 21, 2022 at 0:06
  • Yes, they were used throughout Europe (and, more broadly, the rest of what is still often still called 'the West'). Jul 21, 2022 at 22:37
  • I apologize deeply for not pointing that out. Given your laughable implication that book-straps' use might have been limited to a specific nation or region of the world -- never mind. I'll be kind and refrain from commenting on your apparent degree of cultural-historical literacy. Oops! Fashionably late, as usual. Bad habit of mine. ;) Jul 21, 2022 at 22:54
  • This webpage mentions cartables (satchels) but not book-straps. But maybe it's incomplete or wrong. Jul 21, 2022 at 23:02
  • 1
    Actually, it looks like I'm wrong. Anatole France has the comparison "comme un écolier agite, au sortir de la classe, le paquet sanglé de ses livres rudimentaires", which shows that bookstraps were used, but doesn't get us any closer to a name for them. Jul 21, 2022 at 23:21

2 Answers 2


Update: 'Courroies de livres' is, at least, one term that was used. The Canadian Patent Office Record of 1910 has a patent for a "Handle for Book Straps," translated as "Poignée pour courroies de livres" (original capitalization, not mine). And from a 2014 French translation of early 20th c. murderer/cannibal Albert Fish's journals: "J'ai apporté deux courroies de livres d'école. J'ai pris les courroies et j'ai lié ses mains derrière son dos, et j'ai attaché ses pieds ensemble." Nothing like a grisly ending to a nice stack-exchange! ;)


In the 19th and early 20th century, most students were probably using bags called gibecières, musettes, sacoches, serviettes, cartables. All of them are closed.

Straps were likely sometimes used to protect books by keeping them closed when transported inside these bags.

In addition to courroie that you already found, these book-straps might also have been called ceintures, sangles, lanières and perhaps baudriers à livres or harnais à livres although I have no evidence about it.

  • I see we have a real historian on our hands! :) Jul 24, 2022 at 1:06

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