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Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Early Stone Age people wrapped themselves in dried animal pelts and discovered ways of softening and preserving the skins. This was the beginning of leather processing. At first the pelts were probably dried in air and sunlight, then later they may have been soaked in water and dried over a fire. Further on, it would have been discovered that certain twigs, barks, and leaves soaked with the hides in water helped to preserve the skins..

Evidence exists for the use of leather by the ancient Sumerians as far back as 6000 BC.

Archaeological studies have found the earliest leather shoe, skirt and wine-producing facility in Armenia, dated to about 4000 BC.

Ancient Egyptian stone carvings show leather workers. Egyptian leather sandals more than 3,300 years old are in museums.

The Israelites learned to make leather from the Egyptians. A passage in the Old Testament reads, "Unto Adam and also unto his wife did the Lord God make clothes of skins and clothe them."

The colonists brought oak-bark tanning methods from England. The first leathermaker, named Experience Miller, arrived in Plymouth in 1623.

When the first settlers arrived in America, they found that the Indians' tanning method was much like the ancient shamoying, a method used by the Arabs and mentioned by Homer. The Indians taught the pioneers how to make buckskin.

By 1650 there were 51 tanners in Massachusetts. The early leathermakers simply dug holes in the ground and walled them with planking. In these holes hides were covered with oak bark and left for at least six months. This method was no more advanced than that used by the ancient Hebrews.

The phrase 'going hell for leather,' meaning as fast as possible, comes from a horseman riding fast and putting a lot of wear into his leather saddle.

Sir Humphry Davy discovered that materials from other trees--hemlock, mimosa, chestnut, and ash--could be used in tanning. These trees were plentiful in the United States and helped make it the center of the leather trade.

Brogues were originally rough leather boots worn in Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland, but applied in the 20th century  to sturdy shoes with patterns of perforation in an upper layer of leather, worn in particular for such activities as shooting or golf.

William Ramsay first produced the Kiwi shoe polish in 1906. Within two years, his firm had developed the famous "dark tan," the first stain polish, capable of altering the color of leather.

The first US Marines wore high leather collars to protect their necks from sabres, hence the name "leathernecks."

Corinthian leather is a term coined in 1974 by the advertising agency Bozell to describe the upholstery used in certain Chrysler luxury vehicles. The term suggests that the product has a relationship to or origination from Corinth, but the supplier was located outside Newark, New Jersey.

 A 1978 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham, showing the plush leather interior. By Greg Gjerdingen from Willmar, USA

Leather skin does not have any smell. The leather smell that you sense is actually derived from the materials used in the tanning process.

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