Leather terms and definitions

Leather Terms and Definitions

Alligator: Describes leather made from the skins of alligator, crocodile, and caiman. 

Alligator Grained Leather: A type of finish done to non-reptilian hides, often cattle or sheep, in order to mimic true alligator leather at a lower cost. This look is achieved via embossing. The Federal Trade Commission prohibits the use of terms such as "alligator calf." 

Alum Leather: Leather produced via ammonia-based tanning, in combination with salt, and other substances natural additives. Before the invention of chrome-tanning, this was the principal method of tanning with mineral agents. The process has continued to be used chiefly for glove leather.

Aniline Leather: Full grain, high quality leather that has been dyed through using aniline dyes. Essentially unfinished, though may appear to have a light non-pigmented finish, or have been lightly polished.

Aniline Plus: (a.k.a. Protected Leather) Aniline leather which has received a very light protective coating with micro pigments.

Antelope Leather: A fine, soft leather made from an antelope skin. Velvety in texture and sheen, sueded on the flesh side; so rare that, for practical purposes, it is virtually non-existent.

Antelope Finish Suede: Applied to lambskin, goatskin, or calfskin, sueded, and finished to resemble antelope.

Antique Grain Leather: A finish achieved by applying contrasting colors to the "peaks" in the surface to produce a two-tone effect, making it appear aged.

Apron Leather: Several varieties are used in connection with textile machinery. Comber and Gill Box Apron Leather is a soft, mellow and tough leather, tanned from steer hides, heavily stuffed, usually hand-boarded or otherwise softened. Rub Roll Apron Leather is a flexible but firm, dry, strong leather for textile machinery. Usually vegetable or chrome-tanned, but sometimes a combination of both is used.

Automobile Leather: See "Upholstery Leather"

Back: Formed by first cutting the hide longitudinally along the backbone, then trimming off head and belly, leaving a "bend" and shoulder.

Bag Leather: See "Traveling Bag, Suitcase and Strap Leather"

Bark Tannage: Describes leather tanned by use of vegetable tannins found in barks, wood and other plant derivatives, as distinguished from mineral tannages.

Baseball Leather: Leather used for covers of baseballs. The better grades of balls have covers of alum-tanned horsehide front leather. Some cheaper grades are made of kip and sheep-skins.

Basil: Applies to uncolored vegetable-tanned sheep and lambskins.

Bastard: A particular breed of sheep with fine, short hair, as opposed to traditional fluffy wool. Hair sheep produce a higher quality leather than wool sheep, due to the lack of coarse hair fibers. The name is a reference to "mixed breed" sheep, as hair is characteristic of inter-breeding. 

Belting Leather: A heavy-duty, durable leather originally used for machinery belts. Its high quality has recently made it a favorite for everyday accessories as well. Made from the butts of high grain cattle hides.

Belt Leathers: Leather that goes into waist belts, as distinguished from Belting Leather, which is used for the transmission of power in machinery. Belt leather is usually considered a sub-class of fancy leather. It is made of various leathers, with cattle hide the most common for men's belts; sheep and goat skin for women's belts. Often specially treated on the flesh side in unlined belts.

Bend: A sole-leather "back" with shoulder trimmed off.

Belly: The part of the hide from the underside of the animal. Typically less valuable than other cuts.

Beamhouse: The area of the tannery where the hair is removed and where liming and fleshing occur. Before modern machinery, hides were placed over wooden beams and flesh was removed using large, curved, two-handled knives.

Bison Leather: Made of American Bison, it features a distinctive grain.

Bleeding: The transfer of materials exuded from leather to other material that comes in contact with it at elevated temperatures. It is usually designated as staining.

Bloom: A deposit of ellagic acid (found in fruits and vegetables) frequently appearing on the surface of leather tanned with solutions of chestnut wood or pyragallol tannins. This is a sign of a well-lubricated leather.

Blue, in the: (a.k.a. Wet Blue) Chrome tanned hides after the first tanning operation. The Chromium gives the hides a pale blue color before they receive pigment. 

Boarded Leathers: See "Boxcalf"

Bonded Leather: Leather scraps that are shredded and bonded together with a latex or polyurethane binder to form flat sheets, with the appearance and smell of leather. Low cost, there is no legal limit to the percentage of leather it must contain - it lacks the durability and strength of real leather.

Bookbinding Leather: Bookbinding leathers are made of skivers, cattle hide buffings and splits, cowhides, sheepskins, goat-skins, calf-skins and sealskins.

Boxcalf: (a.k.a. Boarded Leathers or Sides) Sides or skins finished by folding with the grain side in, and rubbing the flesh side with a cork-surfaced instrument known as a hand-board. This is often done via machine. This results in an attractive ridged pattern. The effect is sometimes imitated by embossing. Also called "box" or "willow" finish.

Break: Wrinkling that occurs when the leather is folded grain inwards. Fine break is an indication of good quality. Course break is an indication of poor quality.

Bridle Leather: A harness-finished strap leather.

Buckskin: General term applied to leather from deer and elk skins; used for shoes and gloves, and to some extent in clothing. Only the outer cut of the skin, from which the surface grain has been removed, may be correctly defined as "genuine buckskin." Leather finished from the split or undercut of deerskin must be described as "split buckskin."

Buck Sides: Cattle hide upper shoe leather, with grain surface buffed to simulate genuine buckskin. Sometimes designated by proprietary trade names, such as "Nubuck," "Rybuck," etc.

Buff Hides: Country hides weighing from 45 to 60 pounds untrimmed and 43 to 58 pounds trimmed.

Buffed Leather: When the surface has been removed by an abrasive such as sandpaper or a bladed cylinder. Leathers are often buffed on the flesh side to improve the appearance.

Buffalo Leather: Leather tanned from domesticated and water buffalo of the Far East (not the American Bison).

Butt: Part of the hide that covers the rump or hind part of an animal. 

Cabretta: Skin from a hair sheep.

Calfskin Leather: Made from skins of young cattle. It has a very fine grain and very few defects along with being suppler than cow leather.

Capeskin or Cape Leather: Terms used for the glove and garment leather made from sheepskins, with the natural grain preserved. The term should be confined to leather from South African hair sheep. Genuine capeskin from South Africa makes a light, flexible, fine grain, durable leather, generally superior to that made from wool sheepskins. When used to designate sheepskin other than the South African product, it should be qualified as "Domestic Capeskin," "Spanish Capeskin," etc. Should never be applied to a skiver.

Carding Leather: A special type of side leather used cards of textile machinery. The leather lies flat against the beds of the cards, the teeth being forced through it.

Carpincho: A leather made from the hide of a water rodent indigenous to Argentina and Uruguay. More elastic and soft than that of peccary, Carpincho is chiefly used in the manufacturing of men's fine dress and sport gloves. Generally chrome-tanned and washable; classed as a pigskin.

Cattlehide Leathers: Made from the hides of cows, and bulls; sometimes includes kipskins.

Chamois Leather: A very soft leather made from the inner part of sheep skin that is usually oil tanned. It can be washed and has rapid water absorption and less retention after wringing than most leathers.

Chestnut Extract: A tanning material made from the wood of the chestnut tree and used in tanning heavy leathers, such as sole, belting and harness.

Chrome Retan: (a.k.a. Combo Tanning or Reformed Leather) Leather tanned with chrome, then tanned again with vegetable extracts (tannin).

Chrome Tanning: Making raw hides into leather by using chromium (chrome) as the tanning agent. This method began in the early 1900s and, today, about 85% of leather is tanned this way. The leather is generally soft and flexible as well as being available in many colors.

Clothing Leathers: Name covers material for leather coats, jackets, hats and breeches made from sheepskins, cabretta, cattle and horse hides.

Collagen: A fibrous protein that makes up leather.

Collar Leather: Sub-division of harness leather. Made of very light cattlehides in full thickness, or cattlehide splits. Used for covering horse collars.

Colorado Steers: Side-branded steer hides; not necessarily from Colorado.

Comber Leather: Used on combing machines in the textile industry. A soft, mellow, and tough leather, which is tanned from steerhides, heavily stuffed with grease, and usually hand boarded or otherwise softened.

Combination tanning: (a.k.a. Reformed Leather) Leather that has been tanned by two different types of tanning agents, such as chrome and vegetable.

Cordovan: (a.k.a. Shell Cordovan) Made from fibrous flat muscle beneath the hide on the rump of a horse. It has a characteristic waxy finish and is extremely durable.

Corrected Grain Leather: (a.k.a. Top Grain Leather or Snuffed Finish) Leather that has had the grain partially removed (corrected) to remove small defects and to even out the finish. A new surface is built using finishing methods.

Country Hides: Hides removed by butchers and farmers; quality is usually lower than meat-packers' hides because they are removed by less skilled hands and are not cured as well.

Cowhide Leather: Leather made from cowhides, but the term is extended to any bovine species.

Crocking: The rubbing off of coloring, finishing materials or residual buffing dust from leather onto other materials.

Crop: A "side" of leather with belly trimmed off, retaining both head and shoulder.

Croupon: Untanned, whole cattle hide with belly and cut off; comparable to a butt bend in tanned leather.

Crushed Leather: Applies to leather which has the natural grain accentuated during the tanning by plating or other process. Also applies to leather that has been "grained" artificially.

Crust: Leather that has been tanned and dried but not finished. For Chrome Tanned leathers the drying takes place after the re-tanning.

Curing: Treatment of raw hides, usually with salt, to stop bacterial attack and putrefaction.

Curried Leather: Any leather that has been subjected to the currying process.

Currying: Process of incorporating oils and greases into leather after tanning and otherwise preparing it for specific purposes, such as for the manufacture of transmission belts, shoe welting, etc.

Cut Stock: Term generally applied to bottom stock for shoes, such as soles, taps, lifts, blocks and strips cut from sole leather. Also applies to cut-to-pattern leather.

Deacon: The skin of a new-born calf; a very small calfskin.

Deep Buff: The first cut under the Top Grain, Hand Buff or Machine Buff. No traces of grain remain.

Deerskin: A leather finished with grain surface intact, not removed as in the case of buckskin.

Degrained Leathers: Genuine suedes, finished on the flesh side of skins, from which the grain has been removed by splitting or abrading. Degrained leathers are split after tanning. See "Flesher."

Deliming: Following liming the alkali is removed and the pH is reduced. This is followed by the baiting operation.

Doeskin: Trade term applied to sheep and lambskins, generally fleshers, tanned by the formaldehyde and alum process. A soft-finished, supple leather, doeskin is produced in a variety of shades but commonly in white. Called, French, English, or American doeskin, according to country of manufacture and the tannage. The skin of a doe is rarely used.

Drumhead Leather: Parchment or rawhide for percussion musical instruments, such as drums. Made from sheepskins or clunks.

Drum Drying: Dyes are added to the lather along with water and the mix is tumbled in a drum for several hours. This allows the dyes to fully penetrate the leather and dye through.

Ecrase: French for "Crushed."

Electrified Lambskin: (a.k.a. Shearling). Applies to dyed and processed sheepskin shearlings finished to resemble fur skins.

Elk: A trade term for cattlehide shoe leather of a special tannage and finish. Genuine elk leather is designated by the term "buckskin." "Smoked elk" or "elk side" leather is cattle-hide shoe leather, but should be qualified as "elk-finished cow-hide," "elk-finished kip," etc.

Embossed Leather: Usually corrected or split leathers that have a pattern pressed into the surface. Often used to make one leather look like another (such as Lizard or Alligator), or to imitate full grain leather.

Facing Leathers: A light-weight leather generally used for facing seams, and binding the edges of shoe uppers. Also applied to lightweight smooth calf and lamb, and to skivers, of which the inner surfaces of billfolds and wallets are frequently made.

Factory Leather: Sole leather used in shoe factories as distinguished from leather used by shoe repairmen.

Fancy Leather: Leathers made from hides and skins kinds which have commercial importance and value primarily because of grain, or distinctive finish, whether natural or the result of processing. Such processing may be graining, printing, embossing, ornamenting (including in gold, silver, aria- aluminum finishes), or any other finishing operation, enhancing the appeal of leather.

Fatliquor (ing): A mix of oil and water used to lubricate the leather fibers and modify physical properties.

Faux Leather: Leather like in appearance, and sometimes feel, it contains no leather. Other terms for this are "PU leather", "Leatherette", "Synthetic Leather", "Pleather", "Vegan Leather", etc

Finders' Leather: Very heavy, firm and dense vegetable tanned sole leather, used by shoe repairers.

Finish: Mixture of dyes, pigment binders, and other materials applied to the grain (or sometimes split) surface to protect it, mask imperfections, increase utilization or impart characteristics.

Flesher: Very heavy, firm and dense vegetable tanned sole leather, used by shoe repairers.

Fleshing: Mechanical operation often using bladed rollers that remove flesh, fat, or muscle that adheres to the flesh side of the hides.

Football Leather: For covering footballs. Traditionally of pigskin, but generally today made of embossed or printed cattle hide leather, and sometimes sheepskin.

Formaldehyde Tanning: A method of tanning by using a formalin solution in the manufacture of white leathers and washable glove leathers.

French Antelope Lambskin: Tanned in France, it is a lustrous suede finish applied to French, Spanish, Algerian and Balkan skins; in the United States "French Antelope Finish" is applied to suede leathers made from South American and New Zealand pickled lambskins.

French Kid or French Finish: Leather tanned from kidskin by an alum or vegetable process. In the glove trade it is usually called "Real Kid." As the name implies, the original "French Kid" was made in France and since it was a distinctive finish, the term was later applied to the same kind of leather made in other countries.

Frigorifico Hides: Hides from South American freezing plants corresponding to packer hides produced in the United States. They are usually cured in brine and later salted for shipping.

Frizing: See "Mocha Leather."

Front: Applies to horsehides to distinguish the forepart of hide from the butt or hind portion. A whole front is about two-thirds of the area of the hide.

Full Grain Leather: (a.k.a. Full Top Grain) When the grain layer of leather is left fully intact, not having been corrected or altered. Aniline and semi-aniline leathers are referred to as full-grain leathers.

Gasket Leather: See "Hydraulic Leathers"

Glazed Finish: Produced by polishing grain surface under heavy pressure of a roller of agate, glass, or steel. Infrequently made by a varnish or shellac coating.

Glazed (Glace) Kid: Chrome-tanned goatskin and kidskin leather, in either black or colors, which has a glazed finish.

Glazed Leather: Aniline leather with the surface polished under pressure with agate stone, steel, or glass surface. Ends with a shiny glazed surface that may have a varnish applied. Used on cow leathers, chrome tanned kid skins, and kangaroo.

Glove Leather: Term covering two distinct classes: (1) the leather used for dress gloves, including those for street, riding, driving and sportswear. Tanned predominantly from sheep and lamb skins and to a lesser degree from deer, pig, goat, kid and Mocha skins, and (2) the leather used for utilitarian or work-gloves and made of a variety of hides and skins, of which the most important are horsehides, cattlehide splits, calfskins, sheepskins, and pigskins.

Glove Splits: Split chrome-tanned cattlehide leather used for work gloves.

Goatskin: The skin of a mature goat or leather made there-from; also referred to as "kid."

Grain (surface): Outside surface of a hide or skin that, untreated, shows the natural, look of the leather, pores, wrinkles, etc. The surface is characteristic for different types of animals. Indicates cases where it is split into two or more thicknesses, or to unsplit skins which are finished on the grain side.

Grained Leather: Any leather on which the original, natural grain has been highlighted by a finishing process.

Grassers: Calf skins or kips which have a coarser grain due to the poor feeding of the animals.

Gun Metal: Leather the shade of gun metal, usually with a dull finish.

Gusset Leather: A soft flexible leather used for gussets in shoes, bags, and cases.

Hair Calf: (a.k.a. Slunk) The skin of an unborn or prematurely-born calf.

Hair-on Leather: Leather tanned without removing the hair from the skins or hide.

Harness Leather: A self-explanatory term which sometimes includes collar and saddlery leathers. Harness leather, including these related items, is practically all made of vegetable-tanned cattle hides, except for a considerable quantity of pig-skin that is used for making saddle seats.

Hat Leather: Leather, usually sheepskin or calfskin, used for sweat bands in hats.

Head: That part of the hide which is cut off at the flare into the shoulder.

Heavy Leather: A somewhat indefinite term, generally under-stood to include vegetable-tanned sole, belting, strap, and mechanical leathers made from unsplit cattle hides.

Hemlock Leather: For many years hemlock extract was used for tanning sole leather, producing a reddish colored leather; in recent years other vegetable tanning agents have almost entirely replaced hemlock.

Hide: The skin of a large animal such as ox, cattle, horse, etc. Also the leather made from such animals. Pelts from smaller animals (goats, sheep, etc.) are referred to as skins.

Hide Powder: Petrified, shredded rawhide used as a reagent in the determination of tannin in vegetable tanning materials.

Horsehide: Designates leather made from the hide of either horses or colts.

Hunting Calf: English term for "Reversed Calf."

Hydraulic Leathers: A collective term sometimes used for the cattle hide leathers, vegetable, chrome or combination tannages, special stuffing being provided, which are employed in pump valves, as piston packings, and in other machinery.

Imitation Leather: Materials so made and finished as to resemble leather. Included are coated fabrics, rubber and rubber compositions, and plastic materials. Term connoting genuine leather should not be used in trade names, as for example "plastic calf," "plastic leather," "compoleather," "leather-lyke," or "leatherette."

In the Pickle: Describes skins from which the hair or wool has been removed and which are preserved in a condition ready for tanning, usually in a wet state, with brine, acid, and sometimes alum.

India-Tanned: Applies to hides and skins tanned in India, this leather is considered a semi-tanned raw material and is generally re-tanned by American tanners before finishing.

Iron: Term used for measuring thickness of sole leather. One iron equals 1/48th of an inch.

Japanned Leather: See "Patent Leather."

Kangaroo Leather: Made from the hide of the Australian kangaroo or wallaby, usually chrome-tanned with a glazed finish. Resembles glazed kid in appearance, but the grain of kangaroo is much finer than most glazed kid. It is stronger weight for weight, than any other leather.

Kid: Erroneously applied by the public to all chrome-tanned grain glove leathers from goatskins, lambskins or cabretta. The term is never used by manufacturers except for leather actually made of genuine kidskins. In the glove industry goat-skin and kidskin leather is generally referred to as "real kid."

Kips / Kipskin: Hides from a bovine animal that is between the size of a calf and adult.

Kosher Hide: Hide of an animal which has been slaughtered according to Jewish religious custom by having its throat cut cross-wise, resulting in a different pattern of the hide, sometimes referred to as a "cut-throat" or "stuck-throat."

Lace Leather: A form of rawhide leather (from cattle hides)for lacing together sections of power transmission belts sometimes prepared also with an alum and oil, chrome, or combination tannage.

Lambskin Leather: Describes leather made from both lamb and sheepskins, inasmuch as the skins are also identical in appearance after tanning.

Laminated Leather: (a.k.a. Bycast Leather) When a surface layer, often of polyurethane foil, has been applied to the leather for the look or wear resistance and waterproofing. Many lower grade leathers can be used as the base for laminated leather.

Larrigan Leather: Name for oil-tanned light hides, used largely for moccasins.

Latigo Leather: Cattle hide leather tanned with a combination of alum and gambler, used for cinches, ties, saddle strings and other saddlery work ; is also used on army accoutrements.

Leather: General term for a hide or skin that has its fiber structure intact and has been treated so that it is flexible and resistant to rot.

Levant: Leather from goat, sheep and seal skins shrunk in tannage into a grain pattern. Like "Morocco," this name has come to define a pattern as well as original leather. The word, unless followed by "grain" should be confined to leather from drawn skins. The embossed goatskin should be called "Levant-grained goatskin."

Liming: Process that happens early in the tanning process in strong alkaline conditions. It prepares the hides for the tanning process by removing hair and swelling the hide to help the uptake of chemicals later in the process.

Lining Leather: Any leather used for making shoe linings which includes, sheep, kid, goat, cattle, calf, kip and splits.

Loading: (a.k.a. Filling or Stuffing) Describes the processes otherwise known as filling or stuffing. Loading is adding such materials as glucose and magnesium chloride—necessary for the condition of leather for modern shoe machinery.

Machine Buff: That cut of the hide from which a buffing of approximately 1/64th of an inch (1 ounce) in thickness has been removed from the grain. This should leave a portion of the grain on approximately the entire hide.

Manufacturer's Leather: See "Factory Sole Leather."

Matadero Hides: Hides from Argentina corresponding to city butcher or smaller packer hides of the United States.

Matte Finish: A smooth dull finish applied to chrome-tanned leather for shoe uppers, handbags, belts, etc.

Mechanical Leathers: A collective term for many leathers used in connection with machinery and textile equipment. Such specialty leathers are explained more under the specific designations or uses.

Medium Buffs: Formerly sometimes referred to as "Machine Buffs". See "Upholstery Leather."

Metalized Leather: Leather with a metallic look achieved by applying metal foil.

Meter Leather: Leather used for measuring-bags of gas meters; a specialty leather prepared from selected sheepskins and calfskins with special tannage to produce air-tightness.

Milled (Grain) Leather: Leather that has been drum dried / milled. The tumbling action enhances the natural micro pebble effect and softens the leather. Can be used with both chrome and vegetable tanned leathers.

Mineral Tanned: Leather tanned with compounds made of minerals. Chrome is the most used mineral. Aluminum and zirconium are also often used.

Mocha Leather: Leather from Somali blackhead or white-head sheep, and also Egyptian and Sudan sheep. After the grain has been removed by a liming process known as "frizz-ing." the fine fibers below the grain are sueded. It is one of the finest of nap-finished glove leathers.

Mocha Suede: Arabian blackhead hair sheepskins (commonly called blackhead mochas), chrome-tanned, grain removed by mechanical abrading rather than by hand frizing, suede-finished on flesh side. This leather retains most of the characteristics of the frized skin, particularly fineness of finish, due to closeness of fibers of the skin, is washable and wears well.

Morocco Leather: A distinctive grain of vegetable-tanned fancy goatskin, produced by boarding or graining. The name originally indicated leather from Morocco, later was applied to all goatskin leather. Its application to any but fancy goat-skin is not correct, but has been so common in recent years that is has become necessary to use the word "genuine" to define the true leather. As a commercial classification, "Morocco Grain," is applied to embossed imitations of the natural goat grain on other kinds of leather.

Mouton: A sheepskin shearling tanned and further finished for fur.

Nap: Soft or fuzzy surface like with Nubuck or suede.

Nappa: Typically used to describe soft full grain sheep, kid, or lamb skin, but also includes soft cow skin.

Native Hides: Hides from steers, cows or bulls which are free of brand marks.

Nubuck: Leather with the grain surface lightly buffed to make a fine "nap".

Oak-Tanned Leather: Leather tanned from the bark of the oak tree, although the term is often applied to leather tanned with oak extract in combination with other types of tanning materials.

Offal: Part of the hides and skins not normally used for making the finest grades of leather. The word in this sense does not mean waste because, in the heavy leather field, it refers to heads, shoulders and bellies to differentiate them from the more valuable bends. These parts are also finished into serviceable leather for shoe uppers, gloves and other items.

Oiling Off: Coating the surface of wet leather with oil before allowing it to dry.

Oil Tanned: Leather tanned with oils, often of mineral origins.

Ooze Leather: Applies to vegetable-tanned suede leather.

Orthopedic Leathers: A general term for the types of leather used in the manufacture of artificial limbs, braces, etc., for orthopedic purposes. The leathers may range from chamois and horsehide glove to case and strap leathers.

Ounce: Term used to indicate weight or substance of certain kinds of leathers (such as upper, upholstery and bag and case leather). In theory it is .based upon the assumption that one square foot of leather will weigh. a certain number of ounces and will uniformly be of a certain thickness; hence, a three-ounce leather theoretically would be one square foot of leather weighing three ounces. In practice, this varies because of specific gravity of various materials used, and for that reason a splitter's gauge has been adopted which controls the commercial thickness of leather when sold by the square foot. An ounce is equivalent to 1/64th (.0156) inch in thickness.

Packing Leather. See "Hydraulic Leather."

Patent Leather: (a.k.a. Laminated Leather, Enameled Leather, or Bi-Cast): Leather with one side covered in a flexible, waterproof film that has a mirror like surface. If coated with a plastic film less than 0.15mm thick it can be classified as Patent Leather.

Parchment: Tanned sheepskins. Vellum is practically the same as parchment except it is made from calfskins. In addition to its use as "parchment" for diplomas and records, it is also utilized for banjo and drum heads, lampshades, etc.

Patina: Sheen that develops on certain leathers (vegetable tanned and aniline) with use over time. A form of exotic darkening and is the reaction to oxidation, light, oil, dirt, and general aging.

Pebbled Grain: An embossed-leather grain finish resembling a pebbled surface, ranging from fine pebbled Morocco goat to heavy scotch grain upper leather.

Peccary: Is a very durable leather made from a species of Wild boar, native to Mexico, other Central American countries, Brazil and the Argentine. Fine grained and capable of being shaved down to light weight, it is highly desirable for ladies' fine dress and sport gloves. It is generally chrome tanned, and washable.

Perforated Leather: Leather that has been perforated with small holes. At times, used by auto leathers in an effort to aid airflow and ventilation.

Persians: Describes India-tanned, hair-sheepskin leather. Term should be confined to India-tanned sheepskin although it formerly included goatskin.

Persian Morocco: Name given to leather produced with Morocco grain, natural or embossed from hair sheepskin. An ambiguous term, applied in bag trade to sheepskins and in the book trade mostly to goatskin (as distinguished from "Turkey Morocco"). Should be correctly confined to hair sheepskins.

pH Scale: A measure of hydrogen ion concentration. pH 7 is considered neutral. Lower numbers are higher acidity, while higher numbers are higher alkalinity. Many tanning processes are pH dependent.

Picker Leather: Various types are used in textile mills. May be very soft, mellow and tough, heavily stuffed, steer hides, like comber and gill box apron leather. Picker straps are some-times made from a glycerin tanned rawhide, which is a strong and pliable leather. For Loop Pickers a belting leather is generally used and for heavy-duty pickers a hard rawhide, usually made from buffalo hides.

Pickled Sheepskins: Unsplit sheep and lambskins, from which the wool has been removed, treated with a solution of salt and acid to preserve them until tanning operation begins.

Piano Leathers: A name covering highly specialized leathers used for various purposes in the manufacture of pianos, both manual and mechanical. The leathers are made of selected skivers, full-grain sheepskins or deerskins.

Pigskin Leather: Pigskin leather as used in the glove trade is obtained from the skins of carpinchos and peccaries, and is chrome tanned. It is tough and durable, and suitable for dress gloves, driving and other sport gloves. A small quantity of this leather is formaldehyde tanned for white dress gloves. Domestic pigskin is a tight-fibred skin used largely for work gloves.

Pigment Finish: Denotes leather whose surface is coated with a material containing pigment or other opaque material.

Pigmented Leather: Full Grain leather that has had a pigmented polymer finish applied to cover defects, increase uniformity, and provide protection. Can also be made from Split leather.

Pin Seal or Pin Grain: Name commonly applied to natural grain of high grade sealskin, tanned for fancy leather. Also imitated on sheepskin, goatskin, calfskin, and cowhide, but these should be described as "pin-grain sheepskins", "pin-grain goatskin," etc.

Plastic Patent: A material made from vinyl resins or other materials to resemble patent leather; according to Federal Trade Commission rulings, use of the term "plastic patent leather" is incorrect.

Printed Leather: Where a surface pattern is produced by embossing and other methods such as screen printing.

Pull-up Leather: (a.k.a. Oil Pull-up Leather) Leather treated with oils and waxes so that when it is folded or stretched it becomes lighter in color at the stressed areas.

Pyroxylin Finish: A plastic finish sometimes used on Reformed Leather. Same as "Combination-Tanned."

Quebracho: Vegetable tanning agent made from the bark wood of a South American tree. The tree has a hard heavy wood.

Raw Hide: A hide, removed from the animal but may have been treated with salt to preserve it before tanning.

Retan: Second tannage, different than primary tanning.

Reversed Calf: Term applied to calf leather of heavier weights, finished on flesh side, containing oils to make it more water-resistant than suede. Used for shoes where a nappy leather is required. Originally called "Trench Calf" in England, the term "Hunting Calf" is also used in that country. The term "Service Leathers" is used but is generally applied to splits and side leather.

Reverse Reston: Term applied to leather tanned first with vegetable tannin and then with chromium compounds.

Rigging Leather: A strong, flexible, vegetable-tanned leather.

Roan: Describes sheepskins, full substance, not split. Formerly meant sumac-tanned sheepskins as distinct from "Basil," which is vegetable-tanned.

Roller Leather: Special vegetable-tanned leather for covers of the upper rolls of cotton-spinning, machinery. Tanned from certain classes of sheep, lamb, and calf skins.

Rough Tanned: See "In the Rough."

Russet: A term of varied meaning in the leather trade, since it connotes both color and tannage. Russet Calf is the natural color of unfinished calf leather resulting from tannage by vegetable extracts. Russet Harness is a completely finished leather of uniform color and finish. Russet Sheepskin, used for shoe linings, is leather tanned in cold-leached hemlock bark, with color resulting from the hemlock. Russet Upholstery is leather tanned but not finished.

Russia Leather: An obsolete trade term. Originally a calfskin shoe loather of Russian origin, of vegetable tannage, dressed with birch oil and distinguished by its odor rather than its appearance. For a long time, however, the name has been widely used in other countries with many variations. The United States uses the term to describe a fancy leather, generally made of calfskin, but to some extent of light cattlehide.

Saddle Leather: As used in the manufacture of harness and saddlery, is a vegetable-tanned cattle hide. The leather is usually a tan shade, is produced in various thicknesses and is also used outside the saddlery trade for leather goods of various types. In connection with other tannages, the term should be used to specify the leather as "saddle color," "saddle shade" or "saddle finish." "California Saddle Leather" is a registered trade name restricted to a leather tanned by a tanner located in the state of California.

Saladero Hides: South American hides corresponding to all hides produced in the United States by the larger "small packers."

Satin Finish: A dull or matte finish on leather as distinguished from "glazed" finish.

Scotch Grain: A pebbled pattern embossed usually on cattle-hide or calf leather made to resemble the heavy leather with a coarse grain which originated in Scotland.

Semi-aniline Leather: Full Grain Leather that has had a light pigmented finish applied to impart some color uniformity and offer a degree of protection against fading, staining, etc.

Semi-Tanned: See "India-Tanned."

Shank: That portion of the hide which formed the leg of an animal.

Sharkskin: Genuine sharkskin leather is made from the top grain of hides of certain species of sharks and is used principally in shoes, belts, wrist-watch straps, luggage, and fine leather goods and for industrial purposes. It has varying, natural grain markings, or fine, smooth mesh-like grain similar to pinseal. The term "sharkskin leather" should not be applied to other leathers, such as horse butts, embossed with a shark grain.

Shearlings: Short-wooled sheep or lambskins from animals sheared before slaughter, tanned with wool on, for garments or slippers. See also "Electrified Lambskin" and "Mouton."

Shell: A portion from the butt end of a horsehide, from which leather of tight, firm fiber structure and fine grain is made. (See also Cordovan.)

Shoulder: That part of the hide between the neck and the main body of the hide.

Side: Half of a hide, cut on the longitude.

Side or Side-Upper Leather: Term for describing shoe upper leather consisting of the hair-side of cattlehides finished in a variety of grains or colors. The name originated from the practice of dividing a hide along the backbone into two halves or "sides."

Skirting Leather: A specialized vegetable-tanned cattle hide leather used for skirts or hanging portions of saddles that come between the legs of a rider and the horse.

Shoe Leather: This term is self-explanatory and embraces a variety of leathers. Included are : (1) Sole Leather, made from cattlehides and to a small extent from horsehides and buffalo hides, which comprises both the heavier grade, used for outer soles of shoes and the lighter grades and offal (heads, shoulders and bellies) , used to a greater or less extent for heels, insoles, toecaps, counters, etc. ; (2) Upper Leather, made principally from calfskins, goatskins, cattlehides, horsehides and other classes of animal skins, going into shoe uppers ; and (3) miscellaneous shoe leathers, including welting, lining stock, tongue stock, facing stock, etc.

Skiver: The grain-split of a sheepskin, used for a great variety of purposes which include sweat bands for hats, bag linings, bookbinding, pocketbooks, and fancy leather goods.

Slats: Sheepskin in the dried untanned condition, without wool, or with short wool of no commercial value.

Slunk: The skin of an unborn or prematurely-born calf.

Small Packer Hide: The hide of an animal slaughtered in one of the smaller meat packing establishments with fewer facilities for specialization than the "big" packers.

Snuffed Finish: Leather which has had the outer surface of the grain lightly removed by an emery wheel. Also known as Corrected Grain, Snuffed Top Grain, Corrected Top Grain, or Hand Buffs. Terms used to describe upholstery leather of the same type as Full Top Grain, except that the surface of the hide is lightly snuffed or sand-papered all over. Such snuffing removes only the top of the hair. The leather is abraded with brushes or fine sandpaper to remove the grain. Used either to correct defects or to produce a fine nap on the surface such as you see with Nubuck leather.

Sole Leather: See "Shoe Leather."

 Solvent Tannage: A tanning system utilizing organic solvent such as acetone in place of aqueous solution to carry the tanning agents. Production of leather by this method has only recently been introduced.

Spanish Grain: Finish produced by embossing on fancy or upholstery leather a modified natural grain which formerly was produced by drawing or striking a hide or a skin in a strong tan liquor to shrink the grain, the result being to form a particular pattern on the surface, owing to unequal shrinking of different portions.

Spew: A portion of the oily constituents of leather that comes to the grain surface in the form of white crystallized fatty acid, waxes or, as a gummy spew, in the form of dark oxidized fatty acids.

Split: A term used to describe the under portion of a hide or skin, split into two or more thicknesses. Under rulings of the Federal Trade Commission a split must be so marked and cannot be called "genuine leather" or "genuine cowhide." It is the result of the splitting process where the leather is split from the grain layer into two or more layers. This produces a grain split and a flesh split (with thicker hides also having a middle split). Split leather may have a pigmented polymer finish applied and embossed. Alternatively the surface may be buffed to create a suede.

Splitting: Cutting leather into 2 or more layers.

Strap Leather: See "Traveling Bag, Suitcase and Strap Leather."

Steerhide: Leather made from the hides of steers, usually a heavy leather for soles, beltings, etc., although the term is sometimes used to cover any cattle hide leather, especially in the fancy leather goods trade.

Stuffed Leather: Leather which has had wax or grease worked into the substance of the leather. See "Wax Finish."

Suede: Leather that has been finished by buffing the flesh side to create a nap.

Suede Finish: A finish produced by running the surface of leather on a carborundum or emery wheel to separate the fibers in order to give the leather a nap. The grain side of the leather may be suede-finished, but the process is oftenest applied to the flesh surface. The term "suede" is applied to chrome or alum-tanned leathery while "ooze" is applied to vegetable-tanned suede. The term "suede" when used alone refers to leather only. The term denotes a finish, not a type of leather.

Suede Split: Leather from a flesh split that has been buffed, usually on the split surface to produce a nap.

Syntans: A term covering a group of synthetic tanning materials, generally used in combination with vegetable, mineral or formaldehyde tannages. These materials are also often used for specialized purposes such as in bleaching, filling or as mordants.

Table Run: (a.k.a. Tannery Run) Terms used to describe leather which has not been sorted or graded before being sold.

Tanning: Process which converts raw hides into finished leather.

Tawing: An old, English term that refers to converting animal skins into leather using alum. It produces a stiff, white leather.

Tear-Offs: Small pieces of leather, less than half a skin, which are torn from a skin during the staking or other tanning operations.

Texas Steers: Usually side-branded steer hides of a narrow close compact pattern, and plump; not necessarily from Texas

Top Grain: Is the grain-side (hair-side) of cattle hide, reduced to a specific thickness (designated by an "ounce" standard) ranging from 2 to 10 ounces, according to a standard leather gauge.

Top Grain Leather: (a.k.a. Corrected Grain Leather) Leather where the grain layer has been lightly treated by buffing or sanding to remove defects and imperfections. A pigmented polymer is then applied. An artificial grain may also be embossed into the surface. Often used to create pigmented leather.

Top Grain Snuffed: A term used to describe upholstery leather of the same type as full top grain except that the surface of the hide is lightly snuffed or sandpapered all over. Such snuffing removes only the top of the hair follicles. Also known as Hand Buffs, Corrected Top Grain, and Snuffed Top Grain.

Traveling Bag, Suitcase and Strap Leather: (a.k.a. Case Leather) A general term for leather used in traveling bags and suitcases. It does not include the light leathers employed for women's handbags. The staple material for bag and case leather at present is leather made from the hides of animals of the bovine species, but other skins, including heavy sealskins and goatskins, are also used for this purpose.

Upholstery Leather: Used for furniture, seating, and auto applications. Usually from cowhides. Top grain splits make higher quality while flesh splits are used for lower quality.

Upper Leather: See "Shoe Leather."

Valve Leather: See "Hydraulic Leather."

Vegan Leather: Any material not of animal origin. It does not necessarily mean natural and there is no relationship with environmental impact. See "Faux Leather".

Veals: Designates a large calfskin, almost as large as a kip.

Vegetable Tanning: Conversion of raw hides into leather using tannin extracted from trees and plants as the tanning agent. A generic term to cover process of making leather by the use of tannins obtained from barks, woods or other parts of plants and trees, as distinguished from "mineral tannages."

Vellum: See "Parchment."

Velvet Finish: See "Suede."

Vici Kid: Trade name for chrome-tanned, glazed-kid leather.

Wallaby Leather: Tanned from skins of the wallaby, which is a small or medium-sized species of the kangaroo.

Walrus: The true walrus hide is of such thickness that it is generally used for buffing wheels, and must be split before using as bag leather. It is difficult to distinguish between leather made of seal and walrus skins after tanning and splitting, and the names are often used interchangeably. "Walrus Grain" is sometimes imitated on cattlehides, sheep-skins and goatskins as well as on splits from hides of various animals. In such cases, the proper descriptions are "Walrus-grained Cowhide," or "Walrus Grain on Goatskin", etc. The term "walrus leather" when used in the traveling goods industry is generally regarded by the trade as being a species of genuine sealskin leather on which a simulation of walrus grain has been embossed.

Washable Leather: A generic term for leather capable of being washed with retention of dimension, color and other physical characteristics. Tanning agents used include alum, chrome, formaldehyde, and glutaraldehyde.

Water Repellent Leather: A term formerly applied to leathers heavily stuffed with oils, greases and waxes, used primarily in work shoes and boots. The term currently also includes leathers which have been treated in tanning with any of several chemical compounds which minimize the absorption of external water without interfering with the leather's ability to "breathe."

Wax Finish: A method of finishing heavier weights of upper leather on the flesh side by working wax into the substance.

Willow Groin: See "Boarded Leathers."

Welting Leather: A term used to describe a curried leather made tough and soft. Leather welting is used in making welt shoes as the uniting material between the shoes upper, sole and insole.

Wet Blue: (a.k.a. In the Blue) Leather that has been chrome tanned and before any other processes. It is sold packed in a wet state.

Wet White: Semi-finished leather tanned using organic compounds.

Woolskins: Sheepskins tanned with the wool on also see "Shearlings".

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