Tanning in America

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Jonathan

Re: Tanning in America

#26 Post by Jonathan » Wed Aug 17, 2005 8:24 am

I have been reading through this again today with a clearer head and I think I am beginning to piece this together....

gants du suède means 'Gloves of Sweden' so it makes sense the English adapted suede, as its the anglicized French word for Swede. It seems the English anglicized a lot of French words in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Now chamois is the inner split from a hide - right? I know it was used for breeches and waistcoats as well as linings in the 18th century because it was washable but it also had a lot of give and suppleness, unlike a grain faced leather.

So Buff refers to the process of sanding off the grain to create a velvety surface, could ooze ooze refer to vegetable tanned buff do you think? Presumably white buff can not possibly be ooze then, since it has no colour from tannin. I have always assumed that in pre Chrome-salt days, all white leather was alum tanned. I am trying to figure out why in the 17th and 18th centuries the terms buff and ooze are used to describe what appears to be the same thing -- suede. There must be something significant between these two terms at that time that define to the shoemaker what the products are, either the source of the hide (horse or cow), or the colour (alum tanned versus veg tanned), or process of tanning (oil currieing vs. pit tanning). Do any of you want to venture what the difference to a 17th/18th century shoemaker might have been?
Unfortunately, these references always appear in journals or papera and are never linked to an actual shoe so we can see what they meant.

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Re: Tanning in America

#27 Post by marc » Wed Aug 17, 2005 10:10 am

David,

Let me see if I can backtrack the information that I'm using. I know that the article I mentioned before (for instance, the article I mentioned earlier [Driel-Murray, Carol van. "Leatherwork and Skin Products." In Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology, ed. Paul T. Nicholson and Ian Shaw, 299-319. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000], has some of this. I know that Groenman-van Waateringe, W. Kilian, & Van Londen, H. "The Curing of Hides and Skins in European Prehistory" Antiquity 73 (1999) pp.884-90 specifically mentions "the release of aldehydes from the fat by smoking". I believe there’s something on it in Reed, Ronald. Ancient Skins, Parchments and Leathers. New York: Seminar Press, 1972., but I’ll have to dig my copy out. Ruiter, A. Een Chemische bejdrage tot de kennis van het roken van vis. Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen, 1969, has a good study on the chemistry of smoke and oil. Let me get back to you.

The chemistry of breaking down fatty esters into aldehydes (by way of alcohols) is fairly well documented in the chemistry literature, but I'm not seeing a lot of mention of the leather industry when it's discussed. The problem is further confused by the fact that there are a lot of different sorts of aldehydes, only some of which may be being produced (I'm sorry if this sounds vague, explaining chemistry is really not my strong suit).

Losh-hide is referred to in a couple of medieval sources, but nothing really distinctive or descriptive (as though they assumed the reader would know what they were talking about Image ). I’ll keep an eye out for you though.

Marc

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Re: Tanning in America

#28 Post by das » Wed Aug 17, 2005 10:58 am

Jonathan,

"could ooze ooze refer to vegetable tanned buff do you think?"

No, because "buff" was by definition oil-dressed, not taned [w/ tannin].

NB--it's from Buffle, Fr. The European bison was the first critter made into buff, and after it's extinction [16thc.????], the name was applied to regular bos tarus bovine hides made into buff. The name has nothing to do with buffing off the grain.

Yes, suede=Swede, but this term isn't known in English until the 19thc. So, what was "suede" called in the 17th and 18thc.???

"Shammy" or wash-leather was made of other skins than just the Chamois antelope. None are "split" until post c.1830--no spliters yet Image

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Re: Tanning in America

#29 Post by marc » Wed Aug 17, 2005 12:06 pm

(Psst. Al. The European bison isn't extinct, just really hard to find).

Is it possible that the leather that we think of as "true " suede wasn't imported into English speaking areas until the 19th century? Or possibly even developed? (I have no idea).

From the OED2
"Ooze"
b. = ooze leather, sense 3.
1916 Daily Colonist (Victoria, Brit. Columbia) 18 July 14/1 (advt.) Ladies' 8-Inch High Laced White Ivory Ooze Boot, blind eyelets, small perforations, full Louis heel. 1922 M. B. HOUSTON Witch Man vi. 78 A ‘gift’ volume of Shakespeare, bound in dark blue ooze.
II. Compounds.
3. ooze calf = ooze leather. ooze leather, calfskin through which dye has been forced by mechanical means, used for the uppers of boots and shoes, and in bookbinding.
1894 Daily News 22 June 6/4 From Montreal comes a book in buck-skin, tanned like *ooze-calf. 1900 Atlantic Monthly Dec. b017 Ooze calf, $6.00 Limited edition, on large handmade paper. 1972 N. H. STRAUSE Collector's Decabiblon 3 Elbert Hubbard's imitation Kelmscott bound in ooze calf. 1888 N.Y. Times 15 Apr. 8/7 (advt.) Shoe department... Special attention is directed to our novelties in ladies' *ooze leather, Oxford ties, [etc.]. 1928 Publishers' Weekly 9 June 2348 In four styles of binding..ooze leather, two colors, green or brown, $2·50. 1967 Jrnl. Inter-Amer. Stud. 9 454 The dress uniform consisted of an ooze leather jacket and vest embroidered and trimmed with silver galloon. 1982 M. T. ROBERTS & D. ETHERINGTON Bookbinding & Conserv. Bks. 181/1 Today, ooze leather is a vegetable- or chrome-tanned skin of bovine origin, with a very soft, glovelike feel and a natural grain.

Which of course doesn't mean that it's not just some meaning that the OED has left out...

Marc

Jonathan

Re: Tanning in America

#30 Post by Jonathan » Wed Aug 17, 2005 12:36 pm

Okay that makes sense then... so the word buff is from 'buffle' or Euro-bison which is probably also where the word buffalo also comes from for American buffalo. Buff is oil tanned bison, and later cowhide, and its velvety raised nap is implied because when oil tanning you have to have an open surface for the oil to penetrate the hide evenly.

Ooze on the other hand is a raised surface grain leather that is tanned and got its name form the tanning material, ooze, that was used in the soaking pits with the hides. Ooze later became known as suede however according to the OED2 (which has obscure references from even tiny Canadian newspapers) the term ooze was known well into the 20th century.

Do I see a lightbulb? Am I Eliza Dolittle? I think I got it! I think I got it!

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Re: Tanning in America

#31 Post by das » Fri Aug 19, 2005 11:50 am

Jonathan,

Closest yet.

Buff=FR. buffle. Not oil-tanned--oil-dressed. Tanning requires tannin. The guys who made buff and chamois were called leather/oil-dressers.

[Marc--The European buffalo might have not gone quite extinct, but there were too few of them to make it commercially viable by the 16thc.[?], so bos taurus beeves were used.]

Also, not a lot of "buff" used for shoes either--it's thick hide. Garsault refers to making the soles and heels for white sports shoes out of "buff" in 1767. Otherwise it's usually used for military equipment, like straps and belts.

Ooze/suede: Go with your instincts. Thinking of your period, 1600 onward, there're really not a lot of what I'd call "suede" shoes until the 20thc. anyway. There are a few examples of dyed "shammy", as well as refs. to "shammy" shoe uppers in the 18thc. First quarter 17thc. there're still alot of whit-tawed, white uppers. I think the German term for "suede" in the 18thc. was "raugh cordwain", but check with June Swann on that.

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Re: Tanning in America

#32 Post by marc » Fri Aug 19, 2005 2:32 pm

Al, et al.
Oil dressed and Oil cured are different terms for the same process. Oil cured is the modern tech sounding term Image

As for the Wisent, or European Bison, you might find the following interesting: http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Artiodactyla/Bison_bonasus.html

They were nearly extinct, yes. And definately rare enough that when Europeans finally saw American Bison, they didn't think "Wisent/Bison", they thought of the Bos bubalus back in Europe (although according to the OED the term Buffalo appears to have reached English from the Portuguese in the late 16th century).

Marc

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Re: Tanning in America

#33 Post by das » Sat Aug 20, 2005 3:38 am

Marc,

No argument here--oil-dressed is the traditional term. Oil "cured" sounds more modern, but also sounds kinda made-up, or like someone never heard of oil-dressed. Oil "tanned" however is an oxymoron, as oil doesn't "tan", 'cause there's no tannin. Of course don't tell the modern industry, they are quite happy to peddle "oil-tanned" leathers all the time, chrome-tanned [also an oxymoron, 'cause chrome "taws"] leather stuffed w/ used motor oil or vegetable oils, like these ever-popular "oil-pull-ups" Image

Maybe one day we can get some really old-fashioned buff then, made from Wisent once more. Since the British military units dropped real buff from their parade-dress uniform requirements a decade or so ago, even getting genuine oil-dressed bovine-buff has been hit or miss. Half of the samples I see anymore are chrome tanned "white latigo" fobbed-off as buff.

And I meant that the term "buff", as in leather derived from the Fr. "buffle"--nothing about buffalos, the critters, per se. Of course Capt. John Smith and other early explorers did name the buffalos "buffalos" I recall, that roamed the piedmont of Virginia still in the 1600s--or that they depicted as roaming the piedmont of Virginia.

Robert A Ashworth

Re: Tanning in America

#34 Post by Robert A Ashworth » Sat Aug 20, 2005 5:34 am

Al and group
Since we are talking about buff leather. I have been making 18th century military items for several years. In the past I used white latigo for buff straps. I was recently introduced to Clayton Of Chesterfied Buff and Bandsman leather.I was told that this is the buff leather used for belts by the british .I know it is not buffalo . I am trying to improve my products and make as correct as possiable for 18th century reenactors.

Buff or bandsman leather from Claytons of Chesterfield see link below.

http://www.claytonleather.com/various.htm

I was contacted by email from Mr Ken Chapman of booth Leather see link below.

http://www.boothandco.com/profile.htm

He sent me samples the buff looked great .I have always used Veg taned leather for items and dyed it my self as for buff belts I used white Latiog so I do not know what Chrome tranned looks like. The samples I got are about 8-9 oz very soft and supple I have seen one "original 18 th century "belt in a private collection the buff leater sample looked just like the original if it is original.Any thoughts on this matter would be welcomed as I said this is new ground for me.By the way this is a great forum keep up the good work.

Thanks
Alan Ashworth
Middle Creek Leatherworks

Jonathan

Re: Tanning in America

#35 Post by Jonathan » Sat Aug 20, 2005 7:35 pm

Thanks all for the help....

Dare I ask if I could find a volunteer or two from this membership to act as readers for my glossary of terms?

I figure it is better to embarrass myself amongst a group of professionals/enthusiasts like you rather than the entire English speaking world upon publication!

It wouldn't be a paid position but a reader would receive a credit in my book!

If you would be interested please contact me at kickshaw@cogeco.ca

Theoretically it shouldn't be that difficult since I lifted most of the definitions from several reliable sources and cross checked most of them...

djarnagin

Re: Tanning in America

#36 Post by djarnagin » Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:28 am

Al,

Have you ever run across the term “Grained leather”? I have found one definition in a saddler’s book and it was an embossed grain surface by the use of a marguerite worked into the grain at right angles to each other. I have also seen it used by the Ordnance dept to mean leather finished (dyed black and finished) on the grain surface but there is no evidence that there was any pattern embossed into the grain surface. I am hoping you can be of some help because it is driving me nuts.

Also do have you heard of the term “fair leather”?

I hope you have a good New Year.

Thanks for your help.

David Jarnagin

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Re: Tanning in America

#37 Post by das » Thu Jan 05, 2006 6:23 pm

David,

As far as I read it "grained" means an artificially-textured surface. "Grain" just means finished on the grain, as opposed to the flesh.

"Fair" seems to have meant un-dyed, i.e. russet.

djarnagin

Re: Tanning in America

#38 Post by djarnagin » Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:27 am

Thanks Al

That is the same thing I thought it was it is always good to find out you are on the right track. I just do not understand why the Ordnance Dept called it Grained instead of grain, but we may never know. I am beginning to think it is a slang term but it is odd when the slang term is harder to say than the original word.

Can you send me your mailing address I have an article on russet that is in the draft stage and I would like to get our thoughts. You could call me with if you want at 662-287-4977.

Thanks again.

David

djarnagin

Re: Tanning in America

#39 Post by djarnagin » Fri Feb 17, 2006 3:13 pm

Al,

I am hoping you can help me out with finding the source for where this information below came from. I got the photo copies from Fred Gaede.

Pete Peterkin and your name are at the top of the page along with correspondence Nov 14, 1977. I am using some of this information in an article and would like to footnote the source better than what little information I have. I have asked around and no one knows the source but I am hoping may you know where it came from. I have copies of another one from a year later but there is even less information on it but both of them are about leather manufacture.

The title of the papers is Manufacture of Leather, at Benicia Arsenal, Cal; dated March 20, 1876. At the very top of the page its title is Ordnance Notes.---No. LII

Thank you

David Jarnagin

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