OPERA Project Website

OPERA Old Parchment: Evaluation, Restoration and Analysis

Coordinator: Department of Chemistry IFM, University of Turin, Italy
Co-coordinator: School of Conservation, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark

OPERA Project has four institutional partners, four institutional collaborators and ten end-users (archives and museums) from Italy, Denmark, United Kingdom and Romania.
OPERA is using IDAP damage assessment techniques to classify the states of preservation of some collections of historical parchments of various origins. Damage assessment and diagnosis, monitoring and modelling of the environmental impact on parchment demand a detailed knowledge of the mechanisms and paths of deterioration at all levels of its structure. Therefore, deeper characterisation of damage are being achieved by techniques targeting the properties of collagen within parchments at molecular (UV-Vis, FTIR, NIR, GC, HPLC, MS), nanoscopic (AFM, NMR, XRD) and mesoscopic (TA/DTA, TG/DTG, DSC, DMTA, SEM) levels.


Ancient Egyptian Leatherwork and Footwear Project website

The official website of the Ancient Egyptian Footwear Project (AEFP) and the Ancient Egyptian Leatherwork Project (AELP) is http://www.leatherandshoes.nl/.

The Projects are described in detail, including the objectives, methodology and researchers. It also includes a list of publications related to these Projects as well as images of (some of) the objects.


"Identification of animal skin of historical parchments by PCR-based methods" by Pangallo et al (2010)

Pangallo, D.; Chovanova, K.; Makova, A.; "Identification of animal skin of historical parchments by PCR-based methods", Journal of Archaeological Science 37(6) (2010) 1202-1206
doi:10.1016/j.jas.2009.12.018 (restricted acess)

This study deals with establishing of a PCR-based strategy with the aim to recognize the animal origin of different historical parchments. This is one of relatively rare studies on the analysis of ancient DNA from parchments. Robustness of the PCR technology is demonstrated by successful identification of the animal species using only a small amount of DNA isolated from 12 parchment samples. Ten PCR-based assays specific for the detection of different animal species (Bos taurus, Ovis aries, Capra hircus, Sus scrofa, Oryctolagus domestica, Cervus elaphus, Capreolus capreolus, Dama dama) and two PCR assays utilizing universal primers were evaluated and optimized with the aim to find a rapid parchment identification method, which would be more reliable than the classical microscopic examination. The optimized PCR methods produced satisfactory results. Out of 12 investigated parchments, 9 items were unambiguously identified, DNA from 2 samples could not be amplified with any of the species-specific PCR assays, and only one parchment produced controversial results. The species-specific PCR results were confirmed by direct sequencing and PCR cloning with consequent sequencing. Our approach, including isolation of parchment DNA by chaotropic solid-phase extraction, optimization of the PCR programs and high-stringency annealing temperatures, demonstrated to be effective, easy and reliable for the analysis of historical parchment DNA. We consider this PCR-based strategy potentially useful also for investigation of other types of animal items conserved in museums, galleries or libraries.


"Nature, production and regulation in eighteenth-century Britain and France: the case of the leather industry" by Riello (2008)

Riello, G.; “Nature, production and regulation in eighteenth-century Britain and France: the case of the leather industry”, Historical research 81 (211) (2008) 75-99

Leather was, in the pre-industrial economy, a scarce material used in the production of a wide range of goods. The supply of leather was influenced by the national cattle asset and its slaughtering rate. The difficulty in increasing leather production to meet the demands of a 'consumer revolution' was the subject of theoretical debates and practical intervention. The state controlled and organized the leather market through fiscal and commercial policies. This article offers a comparative analysis of the French and the British leather markets in the eighteenth century. In France, the state assumed an organizational function in the creation of a national leather market. In Britain, by contrast, the state simply regulated an existing market. These different political interventions influenced the dynamics of development of leather production and the leather trades in the two countries. While France suffered from an endemic absence of leather, Britain was able to satisfy its increasing demand efficiently.


Man made mobile: Early saddles of Western North America by Ahlborn (1980)

Ahlborn, Richard E.; Man made mobile: Early saddles of Western North America, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology 39, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington (1980)

This study of early forms of saddles in Western North America features four distinct discussions: major horizons (wide-spread appearances of historical prototypes) within the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries; Mexican origins of form and associated activities; development among U.S. riders before the professional cowboy era (post-Civil War); and development of equestrian equipment among the Plains Indians collateral to the emergence of the U.S. western stock saddle. The four essays are followed by an illustrated catalogue of the equestrian artifacts drawn from the Smithsonian Institution’s holdings and from other important collections for an exhibition at the Renwick Gallery, 1974-1976. There is also a glossary of Spanish and English equestrian terms used in this study. It is projected that this presentation of early saddle forms with many well-documented illustrations and descriptions will provide both a reference source and also the inspiration for additional typological and social studies.


"First direct evidence of Chalcolithic footwear from the Near Eastern Highlands" by Pinhasi et al (2010)

Pinhasi, R.; Gasparian, B.; Areshian, G.; Zardaryan, D.; Smith, A.; Bar-Oz, G.; Higham, T.; "First direct evidence of Chalcolithic footwear from the Near Eastern Highlands", PLoS ONE 5(6) (2010) e10984.

In 2008, a well preserved and complete shoe was recovered at the base of a Chalcolithic pit in the cave of Areni-1, Armenia. Here, we discuss the chronology of this find, its archaeological context and its relevance to the study of the evolution of footwear. Two leather samples and one grass sample from the shoe were dated at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). A third leather sample was dated at the University of California-Irvine Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility (UCIAMS). The R_Combine function for the three leather samples provides a date range of 3627–3377 Cal BC (95.4% confidence interval) and the calibrated range for the straw is contemporaneous (3627–3377 Cal BC). The shoe was stuffed with loose, unfastened grass (Poaceae) without clear orientation which was more than likely used to maintain the shape of the shoe and/or prepare it for storage. The shoe is 24.5 cm long (European size 37), 7.6 to 10 cm wide, and was made from a single piece of leather that wrapped around the foot. It was worn and shaped to the wearer's right foot, particularly around the heel and hallux where the highest pressure is exerted in normal gait. The Chalcolithic shoe provides solid evidence for the use of footwear among Old World populations at least since the Chalcolithic. Other 4th millennium discoveries of shoes (Italian and Swiss Alps), and sandals (Southern Israel) indicate that more than one type of footwear existed during the 4th millennium BC, and that we should expect to discover more regional variations in the manufacturing and style of shoes where preservation conditions permit.


"The beginnings of leather chemistry" by Seymour-Jones (1927)

Seymour-Jones, F. L.; "The beginnings of leather chemistry", Journal of Chemical Education 4(7) (1927) 831-835
DOI: 10.1021/ed004p831 (restricted access)


"Parchment ageing study: new methods based on thermal transport and shrinkage analysis" by Riccardi et al (2010)

Riccardi, A.; Mercuri, F.; Paoloni, S.; Zammit, U.; Marinelli, M.; Scudieri, F.; ”Parchment ageing study: new methods based on thermal transport and shrinkage analysis”, e-Preservation Science 7 (2010) 87-95

The structure of the parchment and its preservation state have been studied by means of novel methods based on the analysis of the heat diffusion and shrinkage activity. Investigations have been performed on modern, inked and non-inked, parchment artificially aged in different conditions, as well as on modern non-aged and historical parchment samples. By means of the infrared thermography, the thermal diffusivity D has been measured along different directions, perpendicular and parallel to the parchment leaf plane respectively, in order to characterize its anisotropy and the way it depends on ageing. Thermographic investigations have also enabled the analysis of extended micro damages induced in the parchment layered structure by the combined effect of ink and ageing. Finally, quantitative information on the degradation induced by artificially ageing have been obtained by the analysis of the hydrothermal shrinkage activity of the parchment fibres by means of a new method based on light transmission measurements.


"Autoxidation of lipids in parchment" by Strlič et al (2009)

Strlič, M.; Kralj Cigić, I.; Rabin, I.; Kolar, J.; Pihlar, B.; Cassar, M.; “Autoxidation of lipids in parchment”, Polymer Degradation Stability 94 (6) (2009) 886-890
DOI: 10.1016/j.polymdegradstab.2009.03.003

Historic parchment is a macromolecular material, which is complex due to its natural origin, inhomogeneity of the skin structure, unknown environmental history and potential localised degradation. Most research into its stability has so far focussed on thermal and structural methods of analyses. Using gas chromatographic analysis of the atmosphere surrounding parchment during oxidation, we provide the experimental evidence on the production of volatile aldehydes, which can be the products of lipid autoxidation. Oxidation of parchment with different aldehyde emissions was additionally followed in situ using chemiluminometry and the same techniques were used to evaluate the oxidation of differently delipidised parchment. It was shown that the production of peroxides and the emission of aldehydes from the material decrease with lower lipid content. Building on this evidence, we can conclude that the presence of lipids (either initially present in the skin or resulting from conservation intervention) leads to oxidative degradation of collagen and that the non-destructive analysis of the emission of volatiles could be used as a quick tool for evaluation of parchment stability.


Shield, Kenya or Tanzania, The Met Museum of Art

"Shield [Kenya or Tanzania; Maasai people] (1978.412.644)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000-. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1978.412.644 (October 2006)


The manufature of leather by Davis (1885)

Davis, C. T.; The manufacture of leather: being a description of all of the processes for the tanning, tawing, currying, finishing, Carey Baird, Philadelphia (1885)
URL (Internet Archive)

From the preface:
Considering the importance of the leather industry, it seems strange that up to the present time it should in technical literature have been so much neglected. There is not in England nor is there in America a single current book broadly treating all the branches of this subject, and the object of the present volume is fully to explain the details of manufacturing all kinds of leather in common use, and produced from hides and skins by the agency of the usual tanning substances. The author has not been satisfied to make use of the matter found in obsolete books, but has preferred to present a view of the state of the art as it to-day exists in the United States. The tools, machines, and in fact nearly all the mechanical appliances illustrated in the present treatise are of American origin, and in common use in the numerous tanneries and leather-finishing shops of the country.
The collection, compilation, and collation of the vast amount of technical and detailed information attainable relating to the various processes, and to the construction of the numerous machines herein described, have required almost herculean labor. But the work has been greatly aided by many of the leading tanners and curriers of the United States, who have not only placed at the author's disposal every opportunity for personal observation, but have promptly and courteously responded to his letters when containing requests for information. It is doubtful if such facilities as have been extended to him would be granted to a like professional writer on technical subjects in any other country in the world.


"Eastern and western influences on Hungarian footwear of the 13-17th centuries" by Kissné Bendefy (2009)

Kissné Bendefy, M.; "Eastern and Western influences on Hungarian footwear of the thirteenth-seventeenth centuries", in I. Éri (ed.), Conserving textiles: Studies in Honour of Ágnes Timár-Balázsy, ICCROM Conservation Studies 7 (2009) 87-96

From the text:
This paper summarizes some of the conclusions from our study of the type and technology of Hungarian footwear between the 13th and 17th centuries; this study has been undertaken for nearly ten years by the author and Judit Bakay-Perjés. Our research has been based on finds from archaeological excavations of Hungarian sites and on objects that were taken into historic collections; most of the finds are complete shoes and boots, and are primarily men's footwear.


"Sir Humphry Davy and the leather industry" by Spiers (1968)

Spiers, C. H.; “Sir Humphry Davy and the leather industry'”, Annals of Science 24 (2) (1968) 99-113
DOI:10.1080/00033796800200071 (restricted access) 

Excerpt from the text:
A somewhat strange feature of the life of Sir Humphry Davy is that during the period roughly between July 1801 and December 1802, when he was intensely interested in galvanism and inorganic chemistry and was at the commencement of a brilliant career, he was caused to divert a considerable part of his time and energies to the organic fields represented by vegetable tanning materials and leather manufacture. This diversion is certainly of great significance to leather chemists, not merely on account of the undoubted merits of his contributions in these fields, but also because they make him a claimant for the title of the first leather chemist.
Moreover, he is the most eminent chemist ever directly to have concerned himself with this ancient industry.


Water-bag, Jordan, 1970, The British Museum

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Water-bag; made of animal skin; entire skin of animal, with back legs tied together and twisted fibre rope tied to legs; front legs held shut with fibre rope which is tied to other rope for carrying strap; head opening held shut with horse hair rope.


Japanese tobacco pouch and pipe, 18th century, The Met Museum of Art

"Tobacco pouch and pipe [Japanese] (14.40.843a,b)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/14.40.843a,b (November 2009)


The taxidermist's manual by Brown (1856)

Brown, T.; The taxidermist's manual: or, The art of collecting, preparing, and preserving objects of natural history designed for the use of travellers, conservators of museum and private collectors, A. Fullarton & Co., Edinburgh (1856)
URL (Google Books)


The Museum of Leathercraft, Northampton (UK)

The Museum of Leathercraft, Northampton

The Museum of Leathercraft is internationally acknowledged as having one of the finest collections of leather artifacts in the world. Founded in 1946 by John Waterer and Claude Spiers, the museum now has over 5000 leather objects, examples of ingenuity, creativity and superb craftsmanship that serve to show the importance of leather as a raw material across the centuries.
(Text from the website)


"La chasuble en cuir de Saint Bertrand de Comminges" par Aribaud (1997)

Aribaud, Christine; “La chasuble en cuir de Saint Bertrand de Comminges“, Mémoires de la Société Archéologique du Midi de la France, t. LVII (1997) 143-156

La chasuble en cuir doré de la cathédrale de Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges est, selon la tradition, héritée de Donadieu de Griet, évêque de Comminges de 1625 à 1635. Or son étude stylistique et technique démontre qu'elle se rattache à un ensemble peu connu de vêtements liturgiques en cuir, probablement produits en Allemagne du sud dans le premier tiers du XVIIIe siècle.


Head of Christ by Petrus Christus, ca.1445, The Met Museum of Art

"Petrus Christus: Head of Christ (60.71.1)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/60.71.1 (December 2008)


"A combined Raman microscopy, XRF and SEM–EDX study of three valuable objects..." by Chaplin et al (2010)

Chaplin, T. D.; Clark, R. J. H.; Martinón-Torres, M.; “A combined Raman microscopy, XRF and SEM–EDX study of three valuable objects – A large painted leather screen and two illuminated title pages in 17th century books of ordinances of the Worshipful Company of Barbers, London”, Journal of Molecular Structure 976 (1-3) (2010) 350-359 
doi:10.1016/j.molstruc.2010.03.042 (restricted access)
Raman microscopy has been used to identify the pigments decorating three valuable items owned by the Worshipful Company of Barbers (established in 1308 in London), one being a large leather screen dating to before 1712, the other two being illuminated title pages of books of ordinances of the Company dating to 1605 and 1658. Pigments which could not be fully characterised by this technique (particularly the green paints) have also been subject to XRF or SEM–EDX analysis. The combined analytical approach has shown that the pigments identified on all three items are typical of those in use as artists’ pigments in the 17th C and include azurite, indigo, vermilion, red lead, pink and yellow lakes, verdigris, lead white, calcite (and chalk), gypsum, carbon-based black, and gold and silver leaf. However in the case of the screen alone, restoration in the 1980s has been carried out with different pigments – haematite, phthalocyanine green, rutile, and a mixture of azurite, malachite and barium sulfate. This work constitutes the first in-depth study of painted leatherwork and demonstrates that the palette used for this purpose is similar to that used on other works of art of the same date. It has also allowed the original colour schemes of the decorations to be determined where pigment degradation has occurred. The combined analysis has also provided a more complete understanding of the materials used for, or on, objects to which access is limited.


"Artes do couro no Sul Peninsular" por Pereira (1994)

Pereira, Franklin; "Artes do couro no Sul Peninsular", A Cidade de Évora: Boletim de Cultura da Câmara Municipal 1, II Serie, (1994-1995) 371-395

Franklin Pereira quer mostrar com este artigo os movimentos culturais e a versatilidade estética da arte do couro, hoje entendida como matéria para sapatos, blusões da moda e apetrechos utilitários, ao longo da história.
O uso do couro, tanto a nível popular como artístico, atingiu enorme fama e qualidade nos reinos do Al-Andalus. O autor inicia aqui a sua breve história da arte de trabalhar o couro no Sul Peninsular, terminando no século XVIII.


The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London - The Glove Collection and its Catalogue

The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London (http://www.gloveassociation.org/) one of the City’s ancient Livery Companies, was formed originally to upkeep the standards of glove-making in the City some 700 years ago. In common with other City Livery Companies, the Glovers have survived and flourished by adapting to modern times, maintaining strong links with their trade, supporting the City with many of its projects, educational bursaries and charitable programmes.

The Company has not forgotten its heritage nor its obligations to posterity and within the Glove Collection Charitable Trust, it maintains and preserves a magnificent collection of gloves since the 16th century to the present day, making it available to the public as far as possible. To this end the Collection has been digitally photographed and descriptive text prepared and the resulting comprehensive CATALOGUE forms part of this web site: http://www.glovecollectioncatalogue.org/

(Text from the website)


Recherches sur le cuir doré, anciennement appelé or basané, par La Quérière (1830)

La Quérière, Eustache de; Recherches sur le cuir doré, anciennement appelé or basané, et description de plusieurs peintures appropriées à ce genre de décor, F. Baudry, Rouen (1830)
URL (Gallica)


"I cuoi 'bulgari' a Venezia" di Stoyanova (2007)

Stoyanova, M.; "I cuoi 'bulgari' a Venezia" in, L’Europa Centro–Orientale e la Penisola italiana: quattro secoli di rapporti e influssi intercorsi tra Stati e civiltà (1300-1700), a cura di Cristian Luca e Gianluca Masi, Editura Istros, Braila-Venezia (2007) 309-322

Estratto dalla introduzione:
L’attributo “bulgaro” è molto diffuso, nei documenti veneziani (in particolare in quelli risalenti ai sec. XVII-XVIII), per designare un tipo di cuoio impiegato nella fabbricazione di fodere da destinare alle poltrone, di tende per “armeri alla pretina” e di involucri in cui custodire oggetti trasportabili. Come vedremo in seguito, a parte gli usi suddetti, è possibile che il cuoio avesse, a Venezia e in terraferma, un uso assai più vasto, ad esempio nella marineria e in alcune manifatture speciali, come quelle militare e medica, oppure per rivestire carrozze e custodire strumenti musicali.
Il cuoio cosiddetto bulgaro non è mai stato oggetto di specifiche indagini storiche o tecniche in Bulgaria o in altri paesi balcanici, in quanto tale denominazione non era inclusa nel vocabolario mercantile relativo alla pelle e al cuoio; non trova, infatti, specifica menzione nei documenti d’archivio, nei quali tuttavia tali merci registrano una tipologia molto ampia. Secondo alcuni documenti dell’epoca, nel period compreso fra i sec. XV e XVIII, nell’intera area dei Balcani si acquistavano pelli ricavate dai seguenti animali: montone, bue, bufalo, capra, agnello, castoro, lupo, orso, volpe, coniglio, gatto e sciacallo, oltre ai cosiddetti castroni, corami (crudi, salati o pelosi), boldrini, cordovani e marocchini.


"A DSC study of deterioration caused by environmental chemical pollutants to parchment" by Budrugeac et al (2010)

Budrugeac, P.; Badea, E.; Della Gatta, G.; Miu, L.; Comanescu, A.; “A DSC study of deterioration caused by environmental chemical pollutants to parchment, a collagen-based material”, Thermochimica Acta 500 (1-2) (2010) 51-62
DOI:10.1016/j.tca.2009.12.010 (restricted access)

A DSC study of new parchments exposed at 25 degrees C for 1-16 weeks to controlled atmospheres containing 50 ppm of gaseous chemical pollutants (NO2, SO2, NO2 + SO2) and 50% relative humidity (RH) was performed. Samples were exposed to chemical pollutants alone, as well as after previous heating at 100 C for 2-16 days and/or irradiating with visible light (1.7 x 10(5) lx) for 4-16 h. DSC measurements were performed in both sealed crucibles in static air atmosphere at 25-200 degrees C and open crucibles under gas flow (nitrogen, oxygen, synthetic air) at 25-280 degrees C. Analysis of DSC curves provided the variation induced by ageing on the thermodynamic parameters associated with both parchment denaturation and softening of collagen crystalline fraction. All the ageing procedures decreased both temperature and enthalpy of denaturation and increased broadness of DSC peak in function of ageing time. The occurrence of thermal oxidation peaks and/or lower temperature endothermic peaks was observed. The temperature of the first softening peak always indicated a general tendency to decrease as a function of ageing time. Shrinkage temperature of collagen fibres measured by thermomicroscopy also decreased as a result of accelerated ageing treatments.


Proceedings of the Joint ICOM-CC Interim Meeting - Multidisciplinary Conservation: A Holistic View for Historic Interiors, Rome 2010

The Proceedings of the Joint ICOM-CC Interim Meeting Multidisciplinary Conservation: A Holistic View for Historic Interiors held in Rome, 23-26 March 2010, are now available at the ICOM-CC website. The papers related to ICOM-CC Leather and related materials Working Group are as follows:

- Historical and methodological aspects of the 18th century French gilt leather tapestry restoration in a historic house: the Maison Mantin project (Moulins, France) by C. BONNOT-DICONNE, J.P. FOURNET, B.H. PAPOUNAUD

- Cleaning of tanned leather: testing with Infra Red Spectroscopy and SEM-EDAX by K. MALEA, S.C. BOYATZIS, M. KEHAGIA

- Analysis and preservation of an ancient alum tawed parchment by I. RABIN, R. SCHÜTZ, E. KINDZORRA, U. SCHADE, O. HAHN, G. WEINBERG, P. LASCH
(Papers will be freely available just until July, 1)


DLM Ledermuseum, Offenbach (Deutschland)

DLM Deutsches Ledermuseum, Offenbach

Das DLM Ledermuseum Offenbach vereinigt drei Museen unter einem Dach: das Deutsche Schuhmuseum mit internationaler Fußbeklei-dung aus vier Jahrtausenden und einer Kunst-galerie, das Museum für angewandte Kunst mit Kunsthandwerk und Design vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, Schwerpunkt Leder, und das Ethnologische Museum mit den Abteilungen Afrika, Amerika, Asien.

The DLM Leather Museum Offenbach combines three museums under one roof: the Shoe Museum with international footwear of four millennia and an art gallery, the Museum for Applied Art with crafts and design from the Middle Ages to the present, with the focus on leather, and the Ethnological Museum with the African, American and Asian Departments.

(Text from the website)


"John Waterer and the Cuir Bouilli confusion" by Rex Lingwood

Rex Lingwood, "John Waterer and the cuir bouilli confusion" 

In this beautifully illustrated article, Lingwood takes a critical look at John Waterer's writing on 'Cuir Bouilli' and reviews what it can be said about such diverse historical objects as English blackjacks, bombards and bottles, Italian scroll cases, parade shields and powder flasks, as well as leather armour, based on his detailed examination of these objects and his experience with heat forming processes.


Black jacks and leather bottells by Baker (1921)

Baker, Oliver; Black jacks and leather bottells: being some account of leather drinking vessels in England, London (1921)

(To have a clear picture of what a leather bottel is, have a look at the leather jug webpage from the Museum of London here.)


"Le redoul, herbe des tanneurs et des teinturiers" par Cardon et Pinto (2007)

Dominique Cardon et Anthony Pinto, "Le redoul, herbe des tanneurs et des teinturiers. Collecte, commercialisation et utilisations d’une plante sauvage dans l’espace méridional (xiiie-xve siècles)", Médiévales (en ligne) 53 (2007) (mis en ligne le 17 décembre 2009)
URL (OpenEdition)

Le redoul ou corroyère, Coriaria myrtifolia L., arbuste indigène des forêts du nord-ouest méditerranéen, très riche en tannins mais toxique, est pris comme exemple de gestion des ressources de l’environnement naturel au Moyen Âge. Ses particularités botaniques et chimiques, indiquées en première partie, expliquent ses applications, durant des siècles, en tannage et en teinture. Les zones et méthodes de récolte mentionnées dans les documents médiévaux – principalement catalans – sont mentionnées, ainsi que les circuits commerciaux à l’échelle régionale et internationale qui organisaient l’exploitation de cette matière première végétale. Enfin, les données techniques sur son emploi en tannage et teinture sont discutées.

Coriaria myrtifolia L. is a wild bush indigenous in the forests and scrublands of north-western Mediterranean countries that is very rich in tannins but toxic. It is here taken as an example of management of natural resources in the Middle Ages. Its botanical and chemical characteristics are described ; they explain its applications for tanning and dying during centuries in that part of the world. The mediaeval documents – mainly from Catalunya – mentioning the places where it was collected and the methods used are discussed, and so are the texts describing the trade at regional and even international scale that was gradually organised to fully exploit this vegetable resource. In a last part, we explain the technicalities of its use in tanning and dyeing processes as they can be inferred from the medieval and later documentation.


"Dating Danish textiles and skins from bog finds by means of 14C AMS" by Mannering et al (2010)

Mannering, U.; Possnert, G.; Heinemeier, J.; Gleba, M.; "Dating Danish textiles and skins from bog finds by means of 14C AMS", Journal of Archaeological Science 37(2) (2010) 261-268
DOI:10.1016/j.jas.2009.09.037 (restricted access)

This study presents the results of 44 new 14C analyses of Danish Early Iron Age textiles and skins. Of 52 Danish bog finds containing skin and textile items, 30 are associated with bog bodies. Until now, only 18 of these have been dated. In this paper we add dates to the remaining finds. The results demonstrate that the Danish custom of depositing clothed bodies in a bog is centred to the centuries immediately before and at the beginning of the Common Era. Most of these bodies are carefully placed in the bog – wrapped or dressed in various textile and/or skin garments. The care with which these people were placed in the bog indicates that they represent a hitherto unrecognised burial custom supplementing the more common burial practice for this period.


"The suitability of the DMA method for the characterization of recent and historical parchments and leathers" by Cucos and Budrugeac (2010)

Cucos, A.; Budrugeac, P.; "The suitability of the DMA method for the characterization of recent and historical parchments and leathers", The International Journal of Conservation Science 1(1) (2010) 13-18

The dynamical mechanical analysis (DMA) technique was used for the characterization of some recently manufactured and historical parchments and leathers. The obtained results were correlated with the DSC measurements performed for these biomaterials. We point out the suitability of the DMA method for distinguishing qualitatively between a recently manufactured leather and a patrimonial one, as well as for assessing the deterioration of the parchments and leathers as a result of natural ageing.


Saddlery by Hasluck (1904)

Hasluck, Paul N.; Saddlery, D. McKay, Philadelphia (1904)

Table of contents:
I. Gentleman's Riding Saddle
II. Panel for Gentleman's Saddle
III. Ladies' Side Saddles
IV. Children's Saddles or Pilches
V. Saddle Cruppers, Breastplates, and other Accessories
VI. Riding Bridles
VII. Breaking-down Tackle
VIII. Head Collars
IX. Horse Clothing
X. Knee-caps and Miscellaneous Articles
XI. Repairing Harness and Saddlery


Saddle, 15th century, The Met Museum of Art

"Saddle [Tibetan] (2002.225)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/tbar/ho_2002.225.htm (August 2007)


CCI Notes on leather, skin and fur

Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) Notes are freely available both in HTML and PDF formats.
CCI Notes related to leather, skin and fur are as follows:
- N8/1 Removing Mould from Leather (1993)  HTML / PDF
- N8/2 Care of Alum, Vegetable, and Mineral Tanned Leather (1992) HTML / PDF
- N8/3 Care of Mounted Specimens and Pelts (1988) HTML / PDF
- N8/4 Care of Rawhide and Semi-Tanned Leather (1992) HTML / PDF

These CCI Notes are also available in French here.


"Intervención en un Guadamecí en el IAPH" por García-Otero y Romero (2004)

Silvia Patricia Martínez García-Otero, Gabriel Ferreras Romero; "Intervención en un Guadamecí en el Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico", Mus-A: Revista de los museos de Andalucía 4 (2004) 154-160


Le cuir par Lamay (1896)

M. Lamay; Le cuir, Collection: Bibliothèque scientifique des écoles et des familles, n.º58, H. Gautier, Paris (1896)
URL (Gallica)


Fish skin grain layer: shagreen (Hypolophus sephen)

Definition of shagreen in Matt T. Roberts and Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the conservation of books: A dictionary of descriptive terminology, 1982


Toilet set in leather case, Germany (ca.1743-1745), The MET Museum of Art

"Toilet set in original leather case [Germany (Augsburg)] (2005.364.1-.48)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ho/09/euwc/ho_2005.364.1-.48.htm (October 2008)