LEATHER, the skin of several sorts of beasts dressed and prepared for the use of the various manufacturers, whose bu siness it is to make them up. The butcher and others, who flay off their hides or skin, dispose of them raw or salted to the tanner and Lawyer, and they to the sliamoy, morocco, and other kind of leather•dressers, who prepare them according to their respective arts, in order to dispose of them among the carriers, glovers, harness-makers, coach-makers, saddlers, breeches-makers, gilt leather makers, chair-makers, shoe-makers, hook binders, and all in any way concerned in the article of leather.
The three principal assortments of leather are, tanned or tawed, and oil and alum-leather ; and it may be affirmed, with great troth, that the skins of our own production, and those imported from our colonies, when dressed in this kingdom, make the best leather in the world, and that therefore this is an article of great importance to the trade of the nation.
Though there is no little difference be tween the dressing of shamoy-leather, alum-leather, Hungary leather, Morocco leather, parchment, and tanning ; yet the skins which pass through the hands of these several workmen, ought to have been for the most part, at least, washed clean trom blood and impurities in a run ning seater; set to drain, worked with the hands, or pounded with wooden pestles in a vat; put into the pit (which is a hole lined either with wood, or with stone and mortar) filled with water in which quick lime is dissolved, in order to loosen tha hair, that it may be easily rubbed off with out injuring the skin ; drawn out, and set to drain on the edge of the pit; stretched on the leg or horse, in order to have the hair scraped off with a blunt iron knife, or wooden cylinder : the membranes on the fleshy side, and the scabs or rough ness on the grain side pared off with a sharp knife, and the skins rubbed with a whetstone, to take off any particles of the lime, or any thing else that may occasion hardness ; thickened by different sorts of powder, whereby they become greater in bulk, and so much lighter, as gradually to rise to the surface of the water ; stretched out green or half dried, and piled one over another; or put up separate after they are dried, and hung out to air upon poles, lines, or any other way ; which must be repeatedly done in the dressing of small skins. This alternate transition
from the liquid of the air into that of water, and from water into the air, with the assistance of lime, salts, and oils, opens the inmost fibres of the skin so effectually, as greatly to facilitate the in troduction of substances proper for mak ing them pliant without rendering them thinner.
The alum-leather dresser dresses all sorts of white leather, from the oxhide to the lamb-skin ; for dressing the sad dler's leather, he uses bran, sea-salt, and alum ; and for that which the glover uses, after the common preparatives, lie first. employs bran, and then with salt, alum, fine flour, and yolks of eggs mixed in hot water, he makes a sort of pap, with which the skins are smeared in a trough. The shamoy leather-dresser soaks in oil, not only the skins of the true shamoy, which is a wild goat, but likewise those of all other goats. The tanner uses the bark of young oaks ground in a tanning mill, in which lie soaks the skins more or less, according to the different services ex pected from them, their chief use being to remain firm and keep out seater. In certain cases, instead of tan, he uses redon, which is chiefly used for tanning ram sheep-skins, and dressing Russia leather. hut for the different methods in which the tanner, currier, Russia, and Morocco leather-dressers, proceed in finishing their skins, see CURRYING, TANNING, &c.