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Subject: Leather dressing

Leather dressing

From: John McIntyre <pr261jm>
Date: Monday, September 9, 1996
I was concerned to read comments from Soren Ibsen that endorses the
view that leather dressing can be harmful, especially when
re-applied some years later.

All applications of a suitably formulated leather dressing should be
made with care considering the state of degradation of the leather.
The amount applied should be determined by the state of dryness and
need for lubrication whether, it is a first or subsequent
application.  If the leather is degraded too far then of course it
is a waste of time.  Having discussed the issue with leather
chemists a few years ago and many years of experience of applying,
or being responsible for the application of leather dressing, I
reiterate that in my view it is beneficial.  It is wrong to say that
a second application will deteriorate and break down the leather. If
this has been an experience then I suggest that other reasons for
the breakdown are sought and that such conclusions are only reached
after a suitably thorough scientific investigation.  I have had a
wide experience spanning some 35 years and have never observed
damage due to the application of leather dressing.  On the contrary
there are usually benefits. One private library (4,000 vols) I know
of in the UK which was leather dressed some 25 years ago is stored
in a building located in an area with a harmful climate and which
has no controlled environment.  It displays books with bindings from
several centuries, all in excellent condition.

I agree that a first stage cleaning with a vacuum system is a
requirement but I would be very reluctant to apply any surface
cleaning which might abrade the leather and would want to know the
precise formulation of "Maroquin Leatherbalm", and understand the
benefits of that formulation, before using it.

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

                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:26
                Distributed: Tuesday, September 10, 1996
                       Message Id: cdl-10-26-007
Received on Monday, 9 September, 1996

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