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Glossary Terms for ""

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

Untanned whole cattlehide with belly and shoulder cut off; comparable to a butt-bend in tanned leather.

Crushed Leather
Leather in which the natural or artificial grain is accentuated by plating or other processes in such a way that the outline of the grain or design is retained.

Process of incorporating oils and greases into leather after tanning and otherwise preparing it for the specific purpose for which it may be intended, such as the manufacture of transmission belts, shoe welting, etc.

The skin of a newborn calf; a very small calfskin.

Deer having the grain intact.

From sheep or lambskins usually with the grain removed.

A mechanical process of permanently imprinting a great variety of unique grain effects into the leather surface. Done under considerable heat and pressure.

Fancy Leather
Leathers made from hides and skins of all kinds, important commercially because of grain or distinctive finish, either natural or processed. Includes graining, printing, embossing, ornamenting (such as finishing in gold, silver, etc.).

The process of adding oil and related fatty substances as one of the last wet operations in the processing of leather. This procedure regulates the final pliability and increases the tensile strength of the leather

The underneath (flesh side) layer of a sheepskin which has been split off. Used to make chamois.

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

Full Grain
Grain leather in which only the hair has been removed. Usually carries either an aniline or glazed finish.

Glove Leather
Sheep, pig, deer and kidskin that has been tanned to produce a soft, stretchy leather for dress gloves. In addition, cattlehide splits, sheepskin, and others that are tanned for garden and work gloves.

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 shoe upper, sole and insole.

Sheep from several species whose “wool” is hair-like.

Off at the flare into the shoulder.

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.

Water Buffalo
Flat-horned buffalo, primarily from the tropics.

In The Rough/In The Crust
Approximately equivalent terms used to describe leather which has been tanned, but not finished. “In the rough” or “rough-tanned” and “in the crust” are most commonly applied to vegetable-tanned cattlehide leathers.

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

Skin from a kid (young goat).

Kosher Hide
Hide of an animal which has been slaughtered according to Jewish religious custom by having its throat cut crosswise. Sometimes results in a different pattern of the hide referred to as a “cut-throat” or “stuck-throat”.

Skin from a lamb, or young sheep.

Latigo Leather
Cattlehide leather tanned to be used for cinches, ties, saddle strings and other saddlery work. Formerly defined as leather tanned with a combination of alum and other substances.

The pelt of an animal which has been transformed by tanning into a non-putrescible, useful material.

The process otherwise known as “filling” or “stuffing”. Loading is adding such materials as glucose and magnesium chloride, which are leather conditioners erroneously referred to as adulterants, but which are really necessary for conditioning leather to modern shoe machinery.

Leathers which have been tanned by any of several mineral substances; notably the salts of chromium, aluminum, and zirconium.

Parts of hides and skins not normally used for making the finest grades of leather. The word used 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 finished into serviceable leather for shoe uppers, gloves and other items.

Leathers tanned with certain fish oils. Produces a very soft, pliable leather such as chamois.

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

Calfskins or kips which have a coarser grain due to poor animal feeding.

A female bovine, under three years of age, that has not produced a calf.

The whole pelt from large animals, including cattle, horse, etc. In contrast, the term “skin” refers to the pelt of young or small animals.

Hide from a horse.

Hydraulic Leathers
A collective term sometimes used for the cattlehide leathers (vegetable-tanned and/or chrome-tanned), with special stuffing provided. Formerly used in pump valves, piston packing, etc.

A variety of materials which have been made to resemble genuine leather. The great bulk of these are rubber or plastic coated fabrics. It is unlawful to use terms connoting leather to describe imitations.

A leather used for shoe innersoles. Usually from cattlehide.

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

Skin from an intermediate sized (between a calf and full-mature) bovine, male or female, weighing in from 16 to 25 pounds (green salted condition).

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

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

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

A process performed prior to tanning where the excess flesh and fatty substances are removed from a hide.

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

Frigorifico Hides
Hides from South American freezing plants corresponding to packer hides produced in the United States. Usually cured in brine and later salted before shipping.

Glazed Finish
Similar to an aniline finish except that the leather surface is polished to a high luster by the action of glass or steel rollers under tremendous pressure.

Measurement of the thickness of leather. 1 ounce = 1/64 inch = 0.4 mm. In theory, this measurement is based on the assumption that one square foot of leather will weigh a certain number of ounces and will be a certain uniform thickness. Hence, one square foot of leather which would weigh 3 ounces theoretically would be a 3-ounce leather. However, in practice, this rule varies because of the specific gravity of diverse tanning materials used, and for that reason, a splitter’s gauge has been adopted to control the thickness of leather when sold by the square foot.

Skin from a mature goat.

Mechanical Leathers
A collective term for many types of leather used in connection with machinery and textile equipment.

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

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 material.

Ooze Leather
Term applied to vegetable-tanned suede leather.

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.

A system of drying leather by “pasting” the leather to large plates. The plates pass through a drying oven where controlled temperatures and humidities are maintained.

From a wild boar native to Central & South America; like pigskin.

An untanned hide or skin with the hair on.

The process of adding salt and acid to hides to transform them into an acid environment for tanning.

Pigment Finish
A process of coloring and coating the leather surface with colored pigments disbursed in film-forming chemicals called binders. The latter can be tailor-made to produce surfaces that are highly resistant to wear, fading, etc.

Skin from pigs and hogs.

The usual American name (which has spread to other English-speaking countries) for cattlehide that has been dehaired and limed, often stuffed with oil or grease. Rawhide has sometimes undergone other preparatory processes, but has not been tanned.

*See “Combination-tanned”*

Saladero Hides
South American hides corresponding to the hides produced in the United States by the larger “small packers”.

”Wetting-down” process in tanning with water to permit stretching.

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

Treatment of leather with preparations to give new wear resistance to the surface and improve appearance.

The portion of the hide which formed the leg of an animal.

Wooled sheep and lambskins, tanned with the wool intact.

Skin from a mature sheep.

The part of the hide between the neck and a line cut across the hide from the center of the front flanks; about 50 inches from the butt of the tail of cattlehide.

Cattlehide grain leather, which prior to processing, has been cut in half forming two “sides”. Purpose is to reduce the size to better accommodate tannery equipment. Represents the largest volume of commercial leather currently produced.

The pelt from small animals (calf, sheep, goat, etc).

The thin grain layer split from a sheepskin.

The skin of an unborn or prematurely born calf.

Smooth Plating
Semi-bright finish given to leather by ironing with large, flat steam-heated steel plates. Matte-finished leathers are first oiled and iron-plated.

Grain leather, which in addition to hair removal, has had the outer surface removed by buffing lightly.

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

Splitting and Shaving
Adjusting the thickness to that required for the end use.

Mechanical softening of leather by the action of a very large number of rapidly oscillating, overlapping fingers or pins while being carried on a conveyor belt.

Hide from a mature male bovine, incapable of reproduction, having been raised for beef.

Leathers that are finished by buffing the flesh side (opposite the grain side) to produce a nap. Term refers to the napping process, and is unrelated to the type of skin used.

Combination of vegetable, mineral, or formaldehyde tannages. These materials are also often used for specialized purposes such as in bleaching, filling, etc.

Table Run or Tannery Run
Terms used to describe leather which has not been sorted or graded before being sold.

The stretching of wet skins in the tanning process and nailing them on large wooden frames to dry.

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 narrow, close compact pattern, and plump; not necessarily from Texas.

A method of drying leather where the hide is kept in a stretched position by means of clips called “toggles”.

Top Grain
The grain side (hair side) of cattlehide, reduced to a specific thickness ranging from 2 to 10 ounces, according to a standard leather gauge.

A process whereby the hair is removed prior to tanning. Most commonly, this is done chemically by soaking the hide in a mixture of calcium hydroxide and sodium sulfite.

Upper Leather
A shoe leather used for the upper portions of shoes and boots. Predominantly from cattlehide and calfskins, although a great variety of skins are used. Usually combination-tanned.

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

Leathers which have been tanned with vegetable materials that are derived from certain plants and woods; often called Bark Tannins.

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

Alligator Grained Leather
This term is used to distinguish the alligator grain effect, which is embossed on various types of leather such as calf, sheep, or cattlehide from the genuine reptilian leather. Terms such as "alligator calf" are not permitted by the Federal Trade Commission.

Aniline Finish
Full grain leather which has been coated with dyestuffs rather than pigments. Usually topped with a protein, resin, or lacquer protective coating. Can also be waxed.

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

Baseball Leather
Usually made from fronts of horsehides and used for covering baseballs. Sheepskin is used for inexpensive baseballs.

Removal of residual unhairing chemicals and non-leather making substances.

Hide from the under side of the animal, usually less valuable than other portions.

Belt Leather
Leather from which waist belts are made. Sub-class of fancy leather, usually cowhide, for men's belts. Often specially treated on the flesh side to eliminate the need of a lining. Not to be confused with Belting Leather.

Belting Leather
Heavy cattlehide leather used to make belts for the transfer of power in machinery. Made from butts of high grade cattlehides. Also known as Mechanical Leather.

A sole leather "back" with the shoulder trimmed off.

Chrome-tanned only. Often referred to as "in the blue".

Boarded (also called Box or Willow finish).
A grain effect produced by folding a skin grain against grain and mechanically rolling the two surfaces back and forth against each other. The name comes from the curved, cork-covered board which was used. Creases generally run at right angles to each other, giving a pleasing appearance and forming little squares sometimes called "boxes". Variations of this type of design include Scotch Grain and Box Calf. Leather was originally boarded to hide imperfections. The boarding effect is often imitated by embossing.

Bookbinding Leather
Made of cattlehides, buffings, and splits.

A cow, ox, or closely related animal.

Deer and elk skins, having the outer grain removed. Used for shoes, gloves and 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 under-cut of deerskin must be described as "split buckskin".

Hide from a male bovine capable of reproduction.

The part of the side or skin covering the rump or hind-part of an animal, as a steer butt. Belting butt is a whole cattlehide tanned for leather belting after the head, belly and tail have been trimmed off. Butt-bend is what remains of a butt after trimming off a double shoulder.

A hair-type sheepskin, specifically those from Brazil.

From a young bovine, male or female.

From a sheep raised in South Africa.

Case Leather
Refers to leather used in making traveling bags, suitcases, etc. It is generally a bark-tanned split cowhide which undergoes a process for stiffening, then dried and glazed.

General term for hides before tanning from a bovine of any breed or sex; usually mature. Includes bullhide, steerhide, cowhide, and sometimes kipskin.

The product of oil-tanning the underneath layer, called a flesher, that has been split from a sheepskin.

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.

Leathers which have been tanned with soluble chromium salts, primarily basic chromium sulfate. They are used for tanning practically all the shoe upper leather such as kid, calf, and side upper. Currently the most widely used tannage.

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

Leathers tanned with more than one tanning agent. For example, initially chrome-tanned followed by a second tannage (called a re-tan) with vegetable materials.

Corrected Leather/Grain
*See "Snuffed"*

Hide from a mature female bovine that has produced a calf.

The rubbing off of coloring or finishing materials from leather onto other materials.