A Brief History And Eras Of Booming Leather

Natural leather is the skin obtained from animals after tanning and prepared for their conservation and domestic and industrial use. The skin is the most significant byproduct transforming it into the leather. Leather is used as the primary material for clothing and accessories. Check out our collection of the leather waistcoat for women here.

The word leather comes from the Latin curium (animal skin, tanned), before the refrigeration. Tanning is worth saying it is the skin treated by tanning. The leather ultimately comes from a layer of tissue that covers animals and has strength and flexibility properties entirely appropriate for subsequent handling. The skin layer is separated from the body of the animals, the hair or wool is removed, except in cases where it is desired to keep this hair cover in the final result and subsequently it is subjected to a tanning process.

The different origin, tanning treatment and subsequent processing of the leather provide a very different final product. There are different types of leathers depending on the source of the animal skins, their structure, and the age of the animal, the sex, and the season of the year in which it was treated.

Let’s explore the history of authentic leather!

The Iberian Peninsula.

The Iberian Peninsula has been very close to the skin. But the definition that Hispania offers Strabo shortly after the Christian era began: "Hispania is similar to a skin spread throughout the West to the East", and sometimes we mention that the Iberian Peninsula is a bull's skin, indicating only the shape of the peninsula.

Roman Empire.

 At the time of the Roman Empire, it is known that the leading consumer of leather goods were the Legions. This trade was later centralized in the city of Rome through a guild of leather and fur merchants coming from the port of Ostia. One of the triggering elements of the Carthage war was precisely the leather trade, a supplier in turn. Thanks to the markets installed in North Africa, with the leather from different Mediterranean countries.

From the third century, and especially from the time of the Roman Empire, leather markets proliferate throughout the Romanized world. It is perhaps the south of France and almost all of the Iberian Peninsula the most abundant area in this type of industries. A discovery found in the town of Botorrita where quantities of lime, sulfur and other chemical products appeared during the 1st century. The material mostly used in the manufacture of footwear was leather.

 Middle Ages.

Officially the year 476 corresponds the fall of the Roman Empire of the West, and from this time Charlemagne dictates numerous laws prohibiting or limiting the trade of certain skins, and at the same time bears taxes from others. At that time the coarse poorly worked and locally sourced leather were from weasel, wildcat, mole, hare, deer, ox, lamb and goat. The mode at that time was to bring the leather of Siberia. This trade lasted for a century and fell under the monopoly of the Jewish communities of Warsaw or Lviv, who dealt directly with the hunters.

  Low Middle Ages.

Leather making has a time of splendour in southern Spain, in the Arab Kingdoms of Al-Andalus. The city of Cordoba is famous for its production of high-quality leather, embossed, polychrome and, in some cases, metallized leather.

The Renaissance.

It is a mystery to know what the life of artisans of the fourteenth century was like. However, there is a document, the Quadern de Comptes, which is a very rudimentary accounting book that comes from Jaume March and his son Bernat March. It provides us with sufficient information on the trade of the leather sector in Vic and the region. The accounts show what type of leather was used mostly at that time. It is known that the shoemaker's guild is the most numerous among the professionals in the sector.

With the expulsion of Jews and Moors, reputed artisans have to leave Spain to go into exile, settling in cities in northern Morocco. Leather crafts, like many other types of manufactures, decline for this reason in the peninsula.

The use of Leather:

  •     Clothing.

 Historically, the greatest use given to leather is that of clothing and footwear. Currently, in this field it is mainly used in the manufacture of warm clothes and footwear.

  •     Construction.

Another historical use of leather was in the manufacture of transportable shops, decks, doors and production of canoes and boats.

  •     Military.

 Until the improvement of firearms, leather was used in the manufacture of light armour, shields and weapon covers. Its use for the manufacturing of saddles and gear for cavalry, quality boots, etc., makes its military utility even well into the twentieth century.

  •     Tools.
   Traditionally it was used in the manufacture of ropes, straps and belts, harnesses for knights or draft animals. Currently, its use in Western countries is limited to riding harnesses.