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Author Topic: How do you treat dry and brittle leather?  (Read 2032 times)

Offline Skyline Drive

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How do you treat dry and brittle leather?
« on: July 28, 2016, 10:27:14 AM »
What's you trick to restore old leather? I use an "off-the-shelf" leather cream, but somebody told me that the best treatment for ancient leather was a leather polish based on natural bee's wax!?!

Offline M1Ashooter

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Re: How do you treat dry and brittle leather?
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2016, 11:23:22 AM »
I've heard Pecards is a good product.

Offline littlebuddy

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Re: How do you treat dry and brittle leather?
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2016, 12:09:12 PM »
Pure lanolin  ;)
2018 and STILL WANTED! a pair of RAF 1940 Patt boots and RAF life vest
Always looking for quality condition USAAF stationary,ephemera,equipment and clothing.
Starting to look for the harder to find items e.g. survival kits and items also woukd like to add a complete "Gibson Girl " set up
We are here for the collectors, not for profit. (PERIOD!)

Offline David

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Re: How do you treat dry and brittle leather?
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2016, 07:28:55 PM »
I have read up on this quite a bit in the past but I don't by any means know all there is to know on the subject.

Personally I wouldn't use anything unless the item in question is really in need of some attention to preserve it for future generations and anything you do use, use it very sparingly. I think monitoring the dust, temperature and moisture in your collecting area will preserve leather items better in the long run.

A lot of products will leave residue that will cause damage to anything else it comes into contact with. Metal fittings can apparently attract verdigris with the use of some products, as an example.

There are some real horror stories concerning the use of some well known products like Pecards but others will swear by the brand and a long list of others out there.

Here is one of the many interesting articles on the topic:
http://www.srmarchivists.org/resources/preservation/preservation-publications/leather-dressing-to-dress-or-not-to-dress/

I personally used Effax Leather Balm (quality German manufactured product) once on a pair of Third Reich boots, very, very sparingly and they came up very well. I had no choice but to give these boots a bit of TLC and when it comes time to assemble my complete uniform I will have to come up with something to remedy the contact of the boots with the jodhpurs.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,
David
"Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your ****, playing cricket is not" Keith Ross Miller R.A.A.F., AM MBE

Offline Skyline Drive

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Re: How do you treat dry and brittle leather?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2016, 10:12:03 PM »
Thanks to all for the input!

Offline Rakkasan187

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Re: How do you treat dry and brittle leather?
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2017, 11:48:32 AM »
A little late to the party but I would also recommend Renaissance Wax from Gaylord archival products..

It is about $30.00 a can but we use it to preserve and clean a lot of our leather products in the museum

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Offline alibi

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Re: How do you treat dry and brittle leather?
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2017, 06:39:35 PM »
It depends on how deteriorated the leather is, otherwise nothing will restore it.  The products mentioned may be of use, but in some cases may cause more damage.  I have a 1918 sword strap that was in unused condition that didn't really need to be preserved, but I thought it a good idea to apply a preservative.  I put on the leather and it caused a reaction between the bronze buckle and severely deteriorated the leather.  Unfortunately I didn't record what product I put on the leather, all I can say is it wasn't Pecard's.

If the leather is beyond "restoration" best left untouched.  If you believe the leather is merely dry and would benefit from the application of a preservative that will also penetrate the leather and restore suppleness check, with the manufacturers for the description of what the product will do to the leather. 

I have used a lot of Pecard's on 18th and 19th Century military leather equipment items and am satisfied with the results, in most cases it merely preserved the leather, and in other examples obviously softened and restored suppleness to leather.  Leather straps that had taken a "set" I found I could straighten out without cracking the leather after application and time to penetrate.  On the other hand I have a canteen strap that looks to be in really good condition, but the leather is so dry and stiff that repeated applications over several years has not produced any noticeable results.

Another factor to consider is whether the product will darken the leather.  I have one strap that was a very dark russet color that has turned black with the application of a preservative.  The leather is in better condition but appears to have been dyed black.  I have heard or read of complaints of these products discoloring or I suppose darkening the leather, which may be something you should consider.

 

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