Leather used by Hidebound in the manufacture of beer tankards, jacks and wine goblets, is all cow hide and UK sourced. The strongest part of a cow hide is the shoulder which also has the added advantage of many wrinkles and other features which are attractive in the finished product. However, the hide cannot be used until it has been tanned.
From early medieval times until the start of the 19th Century, there was an average of four leather tanneries in each town in the British Isles. Leather was used much as we use plastic in modern times and was therefore in great demand. The number of tanneries now in UK existence is a mere fraction of that but they are, thankfully, still to be found. Of those few, many use a chemical form of tanning but there are those still using a vegetable method which is good news for Hidebound because theirs is the type of leather needed for our various processes.
Vegetable tanning is, by its very name, a method using vegetable matter with a high proportion of the chemical tannin in it’s makeup, hence the process name tanning. The more modern method of tanning uses a chemical mix which produces good quality leather but without the properties required for the Hidebound process.
Fortunately for Hidebound, there are still vegetable tanneries in the UK using this method but, to make matters more complex, not all use the same type of vegetable matter. A very high quality of vegetable tanned hide is produced using an oak vegetable-based liquor which lends a very attractive darker brown colour to the finished product. Another form of vegetable tanning uses mimosa tree tannin resulting in a light cream colour to the finished product which allows Hidebound more scope in staining the six different colours needed for our finished products.
Vegetable tanned hide also lends itself to shaping and hardening in a way not possible with chemical tanned leather. The Hidebound ale tankards, jacks and early medieval jacks and bombards, together with more modern fruit bowls and trinket leaves, are examples of hardened leather which will last a lifetime.