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Re; Fountain of Youth

Dear Richard,

You will almost certainly find the articles written by William McLean and
Roger Barlee for our newsletter 'Skin Deep' of interest, as both mention in
some detail catechol and pyrogallol tannins.  They can be found on our web
site at http://www.hewit.com/sd4-leat.htm and
http://www.hewit.com/sd7-leat.htm .

But in answer to your query, we at Hewit's use predominantly Sumac and Tara
as our tanning agents.  Both impart what we believe to be the ideal
properties required for Bookbinding leathers, i.e the correct 'roundness',
firmness and most importantly longevity and light-fastness.  Whilst Mimosa
tannage has its uses (but not for bookbinding leather), it has very poor
light-fastness properties which can often be identified by the pink tinge
that appears quite quickly around the edges of the skins (very apparent in
undyed skins).

I was interested to hear of your experiments in tanning without fat-liquor.
I would have thought that these leathers would have been extremely difficult
to use both in the preparation (Paring) and in the binding, due to their
extreme hardness and brittleness.  Your experience just go to show, that
like so many aspects of bookbinding, there are no 'hard-and-fast' rules in
the manufacture of leather.

kind regards and best wishes,


David Lanning
J. Hewit & Sons Ltd.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8965 5377
Fax: +44 (0)20 453 0414

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