is one of the oldest crafts known to humankind. The
first leather objects were primarily functional, but
people soon learned the decorative potential of the
material. Thanks to its supple luxuriousness, products
made from leather combine function with remarkable beauty.
And because color, grain, and texture are whimsically
varied by nature, no two skins are every exactly alike.
earliest attempts to make dried skins pliable and water-resistant
probably involved softening them with animal fat. The
curative effect of woodfire smoke was also an early
discovery. Vegetable tanning may have resulted from
noting the beneficial effects of hides that had lain
in pools of rainwater that had absorbed tannin tree
bark, or from attempts to dye skins with the juice of
bark, berries, or nuts.
some extent, the progress on the long road to civilization
C an be measured by the uses to which skins and hides
have been put. There are leather artifacts in museums
that are perhaps twelve thousand years old. Over the
course of time leather products have always been perceived
as having a high value. In ancient Rome leather sandals
were worn by the upper classes, the plebians usually
China, in the second century B.C., currency made of
leather was in widespread use. Among the Romans, leather
was so highly prized Caesar decreed that coins were
to be made of the material. In fact, the English word
"pecuniary," which refers to monetary rewards, is derived
from the Latin word "pecos," meaning "hide." Not only
were there numerous instances during medieval times
when leather was the basis for currency, even as late
as WWI, leather coins were used in Germany and Austria.
timeless appeal of leather lies in its luxurious texture,
warm color, wholesome aroma, and exceptional durability.
The world's love affair with fine leather continues
to be influenced as much by its appeal as a status symbol
as by its utilitarian value.