Friday, August 30, 2013

Early American Leather

There is hardly a picture of historic America that shows the people where you can’t count the number of ways they depended on leather in their daily lives. For the first couple centuries of settlement and frontier expansion in America, leather was a staple much like flour and tea or coffee. They were not unique.

The Indians used treated cowhides and other animal hides for shelter, clothing, shoes, and tool-making. Tribes used different methods to prepare the leather, so there were as many degrees of fine leather as there were large villages. Their skills in making soft, pliable, water-shedding buckskin has never been equaled. Most foreign traders sought the fine leather goods the Indians offered.

Getting back to the colonists, they needed leather for basics like clothing, shoes, door hinges, fire buckets, tableware, coach springs, and countless other uses. Cowhides were prized and used for saddles, jackets, and boots. And why not? It’s wonderfully versatile in the effects a designer can achieve on a hide. That same hide can be cut, burned, carved, and embellished with everything from studs to rawhide strips. The method used for tanning determines whether the finished hide becomes soft, furry leather or hard, slick leather. Regardless of finish, the durability and waterproof properties are unequalled.

It seems the folks in Colonial times depended on leather and leather products in much the same way our present culture depends on petroleum and petroleum products. Man’s love for leather hasn’t diminished over the centuries. Today, we have the luxury of enjoying the past in the comfort of today’s advances. We can hang a beautifully printed exotic cowhide or a natural cowhide on our walls and also use them as cowhide rugs. Just go to Rawhide Company and choose a hide or two (or three!) for yourself.

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