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Subject: Leather dressing

Leather dressing

From: Jack C. Thompson <tcl>
Date: Saturday, January 5, 2002
Barbara Appelbaum <aandh [at] mindspring__com> writes

>I have been given two beaded Plains bags to treat.  They both appear
>to have been treated with some kind of leather dressing:  both the
>beads and skins are sticky, and the skin is also shiny, and has a
>somewhat translucent look.  Petroleum benzine removes a layer from
>the beads, and I am wondering if it makes sense to try to remove at
>least some of the dressing from the skin.  Any ideas?  Has anyone
>done this and kept track of the behavior of the skin afterwards?

One the one hand, the leather dressing you're confronted with may be
a 60:40 mixture of lanolin:neatsfoot oil, on the other hand,
possibly vaseline, and removing the dressing is probably a good

However, your description is incomplete and that makes it difficult
to evaluate a projected solution.

How large are the bags?  If they are shiny and translucent, it is
possible that they are actually bladders and not leather (I assume
leather for no particular reason; your posting does not stipulate
that they are leather.)

What is their age?  If pre-contact, they may be brain-tanned; they
may also be smoked (formaldehyde tanned.)  If post-contact, they may
be vegetable tanned with sulfuric acid helper.  If they have been
dressed with lanolin:neatsfoot oil the oil may be neatsfoot oil
compound, which is not so good.

I have stripped excess lanolin:neatsfoot oil dressing from leather
harness using VM&P naphtha, and after 15 years it still feels sound.

Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Lab.
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, Oregon  97217
503-735-3942  (voice/fax)

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:48
                  Distributed: Monday, January 7, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-15-48-002
Received on Saturday, 5 January, 2002

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