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What is Leather?

What is leather?  It seems to be an easy question to answer but that has not always been the case.  The Leather Sellers Guild was formed in 1215 to cover all aspects of leather products, producers and tanners.  Early the following century, there were arguments between leather jack makers and glove and hat makers.  It was argued that because gloves and hats were made from much finer leather than the leather used for jacks and leather tankards, it followed that glove and hat makers were of a much higher professional standing.

The argument continued for many years, the final result was the creation of a new City Guild.  In 1373, The Company of Boutilliers was formed and membership offered to all jack, tankard and bottle makers.  As the glove and hat people remained in the Leather Sellers Guild, it was agreed that only their materials, principally deer and goat skin could be referred to as leather and all other materials used by the jack and tankards makers should be referred to as hide.

The word boutilliers is interesting because makers of leather tankard and leather jack makers also made “leathern bottles”.