Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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suede leather ( suede calf, suede kid, suede splits )

A term taken from the French, "gants de Suède" (Swedish gloves), and applied to a leather finished on the flesh side by buffering so as to raise a velvet-like nap. The typical suede leather is produced from the smaller skins, such as calfskin, kidskin, lambskin and goatskin, although cowhide has also been used.

The nap is produced by buffing or wheeling the surface on the flesh side, or the split side of flesh splits; velvet suedes, however, are buffed on the grain side. A common criterion of good suede leather is that the fibers of the nap should be of uniform length and tightly packed together, in order to give a resilience to the nap so that it does not readily shown fingermarks. c The firmness of the nap depends upon the density and compactness of the fiber structure. Velvet suedes are finer than flesh suedes and a younger animal, such as a SLUNK , produces an even finer suede.

A principal concern in making suede leather is to retain the fine nap and still produce a soft leather; however, the leather must not be made soft by means of improper FATLIQUORING , because even a small excess of oil will produce a greasy suede nap.

Suede leather, often tooled in blind, was used in England as early as the 17th century, and in the 18th and early 19th centuries in blankbook binding. (61 , 173 , 291 , 306 , 325 )

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