Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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chamois

Originally, a soft. pliable leather made from the skin of the chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), a small goatlike antelope found in the high mountainous areas of Europe and the Caucasus. Chamois was at one time used to some extent in bookbinding, but is seldom, if ever, used today because it is hygroscopic, and, if kept dry by artificial means, tends to become hard and prone to cracking. The original chamois was a vegetable-tanned leather. Today, the leather called "chamois" is a suede-finished leather made from the FLESH SPLIT of a sheep- or lambskin, or from sheep or lamb from which the grain has been removed byFRIZZING (3) , and tanned by processes involving the oxidation of fish or marine animal oils in the skin, using either only the oils, in which case it is a full-oil tannage, or, in a first stage using formaldehyde and then the oils, in which case it is a combination tannage. In the United States, the term "chamois" without qualification, is restricted to the flesh split of a sheepskin tanned solely with oils. The old term for the full oil process was "chamoising." Also sometimes called "shammy." (170 , 306 , 325 , 363 )




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