Metta Catherina strap from @diaboliqstraps on IG - simply amazing.
The story.... In 1786, the Metta Catherina, a 100 ton Baltic brigantine, set sail from St. Petersburg with a full cargo of hemp and Russian leather bound for Genoa. When she encountered a storm on a dark December night, the captain ordered her into the safety of England's Plymouth Sound. The storm took a violent turn, though, and the ship was torn from its anchor. The crew survived, but the Metta Catherina and her cargo were lost, sinking more than 100 feet to the bottom of Plymouth Sound to rest in the silt and black mud for almost 200 years.
Centuries later, in 1973, a local diving club was exploring Plymouth Sound and happened upon a ship's bell on the ocean floor. After identifying it as part of the Metta Catherina, the complicated process of salvaging the sunken ship began. Not sure what they would find, or even what they were looking for, the divers worked to bring the ancient wreck to the surface piece by piece. They didn't know what they had, but as luck would have it, a young leather worker named Robin Snelson did. He introduced himself after overhearing one of the divers talking about the mysterious cargo in a Falmouth pub, and was later able to confirm that among the sunken treasure was indeed the lost Russian leather from 1786.
The hides were pulled up in bundles, and amazingly a remarkable number were found to be almost perfectly preserved, protected by a combination of water pressure and sediment – and miraculous good luck. Although early attempts at restoring the hides were disappointing, Snelson eventually perfected his technique, and the original beauty and magic reappeared almost flawlessly. The restored Metta Catherina hides were primarily reindeer, glowing anew in a range of rich red hues and even giving off the same distinctive aroma (now known to be birch oil) that made them so famous and treasured centuries ago.