Despite the seeming abundance of writings on the topic, the depth and breadth of the British raw materials trade with Africa is yet to be fully appreciated. There are commodities, such as cassava starch, animal and dairy products and other less prominent crops, whose exploitation under colonial rule has not been studied; and, with regard to the organization of the export trade, the relationship between the colonial state and metropolitan (industrial and merchant) capital has not been adequately defined. This paper examines the organization of the production and export of hides and skins in colonial Northern Nigeria both to fill a gap in the literature on colonial economic history and to raise questions about the true position of the colonial state vis-à-vis metropolitan capital. Relying on primary source materials, it confirms the importance of hides and skins as a commodity of the pre-colonial caravan trade; and shows that, upon the establishment of British rule over Northern Nigeria, the volume of production and export increased, reaching new and unprecedented peaks during the world wars. Colonialism had a tremendous impact on the hides and skins industry of Northern Nigeria. The colonial state forced the producers to adopt new procedures in flaying, trimming and drying hides and skins, and extended rules of control of markets, minimum standards and compulsory inspection to the industry. In the enforcement of these rules, the state practised double standards, treating African producers and European merchant companies differently. Finally, on the strength of the evidence from the controversy over export duties and railway freight charges, the paper agrees that European merchants and industrialists had unlimited access to, and sometimes prevailed on, the colonial state; but argues that the latter had autonomy in the taking of crucial decisions affecting the economy and commerce of the colony.