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Subject: Leather dressing

Leather dressing

From: John McIntyre <pr261jm>
Date: Thursday, August 29, 1996
Patricia Chalmers asked about the use of potassium lactate and
leather dressing which prompted a reply from Paul Storch who states
that "the use of lanolin and neatsfoot oil does not prolong the life
of vegetable tanned leather effectively".

I thought this needed a response as the statement could lead people
to believe it is a waste of time applying leather dressing which I
believe is wrong.  It is true that leather dressing is not a
preservative as it plays no part in combating chemical reactions.
What it does, and this is often not appreciated, is lubricate the
collagen fibres providing protection against premature breakdown
where the leather is subjected to a mechanical function as it is in
bookbindings. This may not be a worry with some museum objects but
it is with bookbindings.

Betty Haines of the Leather Conservation Centre, Northampton, UK
long ago determined that the application of potassium lactate to
vegetable tanned leather was a waste of time, it does not do any
harm but neither does it do any good. My experience over many years
tells me that the application of leather dressing is beneficial. The
formula referred to, lanolin and neatsfoot oil, is the one we now
use at NLS and is widely used throughout the  UK.

John E McIntyre
Head of Preservation
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh  EH1 1EW
+44 131 226 4531
Fax: +44 (0)131 220 6662

                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:23
                  Distributed: Friday, August 30, 1996
                       Message Id: cdl-10-23-003
Received on Thursday, 29 August, 1996

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