Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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goatskin

Leather manufactured from a number of varieties of goats, especially of the genus Capra. There is little or no supply of domestic goatskin in either England or the United States; what production there still is, mostly in England, is of skins imported from India, Pakistan, East and West Africa, South Africa, and some from Southern Europe and Central and South America. Supplies are also available from the Far East. The green skins are dry-salted, wet-salted, or simply dried, and then baled for shipment to tanneries. African skins frequently suffer from damage due to disease and improper drying and are usually not suitable for use as bookbinding leather; however, Nigerian goatskins are frequently among the finest available. Some goatskins are tanned, but generally not finished, in the country of origin, principally in India (East India (E.I.) tanned), but also small quantities in Africa. Most goatskin for use in bookbinding is vegetable tanned, but some skins are alum tawed. Some skins are even tanned by a combination vegetable and chrome process.

Goatskin is tougher and more tightly fibered than sheepskin, has a hard-wearing grain, and, when properly tanned, can last for centuries. It colors beautifully and has a distinctive texture identified by ridges and furrows in the grain, and hair pits in groups all over the surface. Straight-grained goatskin is produced by rolling damp skins until all the furrows in the grain run in the same direction, while crushed goatskins have had the ridges flattened by ironing, rolling or plating.

Although MOROCCO , the best known goatskin, was first produced by the Moors, possibly as early as the 11 th century or before, the use of goatskin in Europe did not become common until the first half of the 16th century, in Italy, and was not common in France until the second half of the 16th century. It was rarely used in England before 1600. Since its rise to ascendancy, however, it has been the traditional skin used in fine bookbinding. See also: LEATHER ; LEVANT ; NIGER . (83 , 102 , 164 , 207 , 236 , 291 , 335 , 363 )




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