Notes on Leather Tanning, history and method

The treatment of animal skins to fit them for useful purposes is a practice which seems to exist wherever mankind has been found. In our Bible, Gen. 3 V 21, "Unto Adam also and his Wife did the Lord God make coats of skins and clothed them ". The Egyptians, who formed the first civilised nation of history, have left considerable evidence, both as relics in museums and drawings in the pyramids, of their knowledge of leather manufacture. The Roman World State made considerable progress in the various processes employed and the use of leather goods produced.

The last century has witnessed vast developments in both the scientific knowledge and the application of this knowledge to making leather manufacture a branch of chemical technology. Trace a map of the world and the following countries export hides, tanning materials etc. to England who import these materials.

Tanning materials come from leaves, twigs, and wood of trees :-


All animals have an external covering for their flesh and fat which forms the raw materials for the manufacture of leather. The skin is composed of an intricate fibre structure, made up of fibris composing a fibre, and fibres making up a fibre bundle and interwoven with other fibre bundles.


English hides are sold by auction at public hide markets and are forwarded to the Tannery from the market. These hides have to be put into process at once, otherwise they begin to putrefy. Foreign hides are preserved by either drying or salting. The process of making leather can be divided into three stages :-

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