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Re: fountain of youth?

Dear Richard and all,

In answer to your request............

Fat Liquoring is an essential part of modern day leather production.  As far
as I know, all leathers need to be fat liquored to a greater or lesser
extent - i.e. leather for bookbinding, upholstery, leathergoods, clothing,

The Fat Liquor acts as an internal lubricant allowing the fibres to move
over one another.  Without this process the leather would be extremely hard,
brittle and weak.  We at Hewits normally add the fat liquor during the
dyeing process.  The skill of the tanner of bookbinding leather is to add
enough fat liquor to lubricate and protect the fibres, but not so much as to
give the finished leather a 'greasy' feel and therefore make gold tooling
difficult or impossible.

For some leather applications, fat liquoring to excess is desirable, such as
in the case of bridle and saddlery lathers where one expects to have that
greasy feel.  In these cases, tallow is also often added to the finished

As to the matter of 'To Dress or Not To Dress...' -  this is a far more
controversial issue.  The bookbinding leather that leaves our tannery, is
finished with just the right amount of lubrication.  There is therefore, no
need to add leather dressing to (our) new leather other than for 'cosmetic'
reasons, since the adding of dressing would not benefit the leather.  What
happens down the line is another matter entirely and depends on the way the
finished book is stored.  Books stored long term in carefully controlled
temperature and humidity conditions, will survive quite happily for many,
many years without the need of any applications of wax, oil or dressings.
However, and as an example, a book that lives on a shelf, in direct
sunlight, near an open window, in the middle of London or New York City is
quite likely going to need to be treated once or twice a year with some form
of protection.

Please let us know if further clarification is required.

best wishes,


David Lanning
J. Hewit & Sons Ltd.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8965 5377
Fax: +44 (0)20 8453 0414

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