The History of Leather

As we look back upon the records of history, we can see that animal hide was used in various different cultures and cizilizations as far back as 1300 B.C (Before Christ). This historical evidence shows us that the Egyptians had already started using leather at this time. Leather was used by primitive societies in Asia, Europe, North America and Africa too. Each of these more primitive societies had its own unique method of producing leather products from animal hide. A few societies even used animal hide to fabricate containers for keeping wine.

The First Uses of Leather Garments

The Greek’s made use of leather in their fabrications of garments around 1200 B.C, which was during the time of Homeric Heroes. Leather this was also adopted by the Romans, who used leather in the fabrication of a leather shirt, used as protective armour for their soldiers.

Early Leather Preservation

However during this time one of the most important missing pieces was how to preserve leather. Their original crud animal hide didn’t last very long. However over the course of history, there have been various methods to both soften and preserve leather. It isn’t currently known the process which led to these discoveries, but it is believed that through trial and error or by accident, a process for better leather was found.

Some of the early methods for preserving leather were:

  • Smoking
  • Greasing
  • Using bark extract

The Introduction of Tanning

The first use of tanning in leather started with the Hebrews, who kept it a secret which was passed down the generations.

However as the European civilizations began to trade during the Middle Ages, tanners from across the continent began coming together and comparing methods. The practice of leather tanning then became an official skill, where people could apply for licences to practice the art.

Large improvements were made in the tanning process during the 19th century, with extracts from bark and vegetables being used to replace other methods such as chrome tanning (which used chemicals to tan the leather).

A large proportion of modern tanned leather now uses chrome tanning, however with the western trend to a greener lifestyle there are increases in vegetable tanning seen in the UK and USA production processes.

Types of Leather in Modern Society

Today, there are quite a number of tanneries where one can buy leather accessories as much as one wants. If you want to make use of leather for anything at all, it is important that you understand the type of leather you are buying and also the type of animal hides used in the fabrication of the leather. Below are some of the types of leathers that you can buy.

  • Suede Leather: This is a kind of leather produced by sanding the animal skin.
  • Full Grain Leather: As the name suggests, this type of leather is still as it was when it was gotten from the animal skin, only the hairs have been removed. Often used with premium leather bags, briefcases for men and women, laptop bags, belts, and wallets.
  • Top Grain Leather: This is when the full grain leather is split. The top part of it is what is known as top grain leather.
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