Leather Quality and Properties

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by VegTan, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. Equus Leather

    Equus Leather Senior member Affiliate Vendor

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    The top two links are from Bakers in Devon where quite a lot of our leather comes from - there will be a number of people reading this thread wearing leather made there. Its very much leather tanned and finished the old fashioned way, total contrast to how modern calf tends to be made. The consequence is much more interesting but much less homogenous leather - I love it. They dont make shoe upper outer leather I dont think but are very famous for their sole leather and I believe lining leather.

    http://www.jfjbaker.co.uk

    I havent watched them stuffing the leather, but in the context of the discussion above my understanding is they only use natural waxes and oils, certainly thats what my nose would suggest.

    Charlie
     


  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I don't believe Baker makes any lining leather...they make primarily shoe leathers such as insole shoulders, toe puffs and heel stiffs, some welting and outsole leather. Additionally, they make some saddle leathers--harness and bridle--and a small amount of specialty leathers that are used architecturally. But it's all pretty much the same process.

    They are, as mentioned in the link, the oldest and the only remaining Traditional tannery in Britain. They may be the only tannery in the world that leaves their hides in the pits for over six months much less the six weeks of more modern tanneries. They are categorically [COLOR=FF0000]not[/COLOR] using synthetic tanning chemicals or mineral oil or paraffin or any of that typically contemporary and wholly expedient BS.

    They are nearly alone in this worldwide but I suspect that a quick Internet search could enlighten them--as it has so many others.:devil:

    Unquestionably the very best insole leather in the world and maybe the best outsole as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013


  3. Munky

    Munky Senior member

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    I often use Collonil 1909 Creme de Luxe, recommended by Benhour. It contains cedar oil, which I haven't seen discussed here. What does it do? The Creme is a great cleaner and (probably) conditioner.
     


  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Keeps the moths at bay. :cool:

    Seriously, I've never run across cedar oil in the trade.
     


  5. Munky

    Munky Senior member

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    You may be right, DW, I haven't found any moths in my shoes since using this cream. [​IMG]

    The Collonil site says:

    1909 Ceme de Luxe is the highest grade polish.
    Contains cedar oil for the best shine and leather conditioning.
     


  6. VegTan

    VegTan Senior member

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    A dictionary for conservators says "cedarwood oil provides protection against mold growth and insect attack".
    http://cool.conservation-us.org/don/dt/dt2026.html


     


  7. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    DW, you've mentioned that even modern tanneries who claim they do hot stuffing don't do it the same way it was done back in the day. I wonder with the right about of people (and money) we could get a custom "run" of properly hot stuffed hides to make up some shoes on. Could be fun, kind of like the dudes in the cloth thread do.

    Apparently the next best tannery for outsoles is J.R. which is "partially" oak bark tanned. I have noticed something strange, and it could just be me, but whenever I have purchased shoes with JR's on them from the factory, they have lasted a lot longer than when I have gotten a resole with them. Could it be JR has different quality levels? Could it be that when the shoe gets worn it flexes easier putting more stretch on the outsole? OOORRRR, could they simply be using different thickness soles.


    Side question: DW, all of these asinine questions how many out of 10 do you roll your eyes at and think we are getting way too nitpicky and overthinking? :)
     


  8. JermynStreet

    JermynStreet Senior member

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    This, and how much money have you lost as a result of having to answer our n00b questions?
     


  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Well, first, hot stuffing is really only appropriate for leathers that will be used in casual or work settings. You're never gonna get a polish on an hot stuffed leather. Then too, you've got to consider...what do you want...consistency or natural? Because that's near what it comes down to in this day and age. Hand stuffing, while utilizing Traditional waxes and oils is likely to be inconsistent, as was mentioned above. And may take a considerable amount of time to do correctly.

    I suspect that modern hot stuffing relies on oils that will penetrate quickly and distribute themselves evenly. And oils that are inexpensive and which mix readily.

    JR outsoles are, AFAIK, primarily Valona tanned. Valona tanning is based on acorn hulls not oak bark as Baker is. Valona produces a stiffer, more brittle tannage than tanning that relies on oak bark. That's been my experience. This is both good and bad, although I, personally, have little good to say about it. I find that JRs tend to be hard to cut and wear away faster than oak bark outsoles, esp. on concrete. Just my opinion and I'm sure it's subjective.

    It's very difficult to get Baker outsoling in the US. Generally speaking we have to create an ad hoc buyer's consortium to buy in quantities sufficient to make it worthwhile for both us and Bakers. I have tried for 30+ years to convince tanners and importers to bring it in but almost universally they tell me they can't ever seem to complete the transaction with Baker. Communications break down somewhere in the process and if nothing else it scares the importer off simply because he must have a reliable source to sell the product--buying futurities is not a good strategy in the leather trade.



    Oh hell...years and years ago, when I was in the US Army parachute training, and laying on the ground retching (along with several hundred other guys) from a particularly grueling training exercise, the drill sergeant would mockingly call us all "ladies" and remind us that we "volunteered for this sh**".

    Guys, I'm here voluntarily. I hope I'm helping, I hope I'm providing some insight into an enterprise that is both eminently precious and sadly disappearing. I hope that with my words here (most of them at any rate) and my work with my Guild and the Crispin Colloquy and the books I have written that I am helping to preserve something I value and love. My motives are selfish.

    But hey, that's all anyone can do.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013


  10. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    :slayer: Thank you!
     


  11. JermynStreet

    JermynStreet Senior member

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    Well thanks for your time. When I have the money, obtaining a pair of DW Frommer shoes is at the top of my list. Maybe that will at least compensate you for all of my questions.
     


  12. SHS

    SHS Senior member

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    +1
     


  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    :cheers:
     


  14. wurger

    wurger Senior member

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    yes, much appreciated for your contributions DWFII, I take it that you were once a part of the 82nd Airborne?
     


  15. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
     


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