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Re: dry rotted suede :: maintenance

On Thu, 21 Nov 1996, Sumner Zacks M.D. wrote:

> >I've even heard claims in this decade that oiling is bad for leather books.
> >
> >I recommend Marney's Conservation Leather Dressing, available from
> >Bookbinders' Warehouse, a local bookbinders' supplier, or some fine
> >bookstores (like Maggs). It's less waxy than British Museum Formula, but
> >still has a little wax. I originally learned to mix 40% lanolin with 60%
> >neatsfoot oil. I now prefer it with wax.
> >
> >Maybe it's a myth, but I believe sealing the surface with wax helps seal in
> >the oil, which lubricates the cell membranes to reduce frictional abrasion,
> Richard:
>         This lurker enjoyed your little piece on preserving leather but it
> seemed that a little more precise concept of how leather is organized might
> help find a way to "consolidate".The skin surface (epidermis) of the
> living cow is made of several layers of flat (squamous) cells each covered
> by a very thin cell membrane and interconnected by very ,very small "tight
> junctions". These cell layers are supported by a dermis composed of
> fibrocytes which laydown collagen ,a long stranded protein.This substratum
> contains the blood vessels and nerve fibers needed for a functioning
> integument.Now,when you tan the skin as in leather making,a very rough
> process with scraping,strong acids and alkalis.I doubt much of the
> epidermis (containing cell membranes) survives.What you are dealing with is
> stabilized collagen in leather and destabilzed collagen in powdered
> leather.It seems likely that not only lateral binding is destroyed, but
> also  that the collagen strands are broken into short lengths.If this is
> the case (I suppose someone has studied this),conservators are unlikely to
> find a way to put the together again.,
> S

The above has always been a puzzle to me.  Leather seems to be one of the
world's most unique materials.  I've always wondered what the tanning
process really did to convert skin into leather.

By the way, I think I have also discovered why Mick Jagger looks so old
to me?  I thank you twice!


     M I C H A E L   M O R I N                M.F.A., M.L.S.

Director Celtic Press               Instructional Media Librarian
  Buffalo  New York                  D'Youville College Library
         Co-Moderator Buffalo Free-Net Preservation SIG
    Member Buffalo Free-Net Information Development Committee

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