The Oak Bark tanned leather was originally made for bridles and stirrup leathers. Devon cowhides are tanned just using oak bark from the Lake District and water from the River Coly the flows by the tannery and drives their water wheel. The hides are suspended in an oak bark liquor and the water wheel agitates the liquor ensuring full absorption of the tannins. Its the tannins that do the essential work transforming skin into leather. The hides are processed completely by hand which takes almost 18 months. Bakers tannery in Colyton is the only oak bark tannery in Europe. Each of our oak bark tanned hides is unique and bursting with character. No two are the same. The rich brown dye has great depth - it is applied by hand and varies across the hide giving an interesting depth to the colour. The leather is full grain - the blemishes and scarring naturally found on the cows skin are not removed.
The Russia Kip leather has a fascinating provenance. It is tanned to an ancient Russian recipe using 3 different wood barks - oak, willow and birch then dressed in birch oil. Russia, before the revolution, was world famous for its traditional techniques of leather making. They were making the best leather. We got to know about this in the 70's particularly in south west England when a sunken ship was discovered by divers of the coast of Plymouth. Its cargo was hemp and leather coming from Russia on the Metta Catharina. She sank in 1786. The hides had been under water over 200 years. The leather was rescued and carefully renovated. This leather has been mostly used up now so Bakers Tannery in Colyton, at the request of a prestigious French leathergoods manufacturer, took up the challenge to make something to at least match the quality of the original Russian hides. Bakers use Devon calf skins to create this exceptional leather tanning it with 3 different barks and dressing it with Birch oil. The Mini Baja with solid brass fittings or nickel silver bridle buckles are a perfect match for this extraordinary leather. Like all our natural leathers it starts off slightly stiff but in no time softens, gently shines and becomes a part of you and your daily life.
The development of this leather has been progressing over the last 4 years and is more like the original Russian leather than anything our tannery has produced up to now. The original reproduction made by our tanners had a squarer grain imprint (as in this web photo) while the original 1786 leather was diamond shaped. Please see the image shown on our page for the Midi Baja Bag as an example off our current hides.
Tanner Bates are hand makers using leather that is produced using traditional techniques with as few processes as possible between the raw skin and the finished leather. We cannot and do not want to guarantee uniformity of grain or colour in our leather - we enjoy the unique nature of every hide created by our tannery’s traditional processes.
Each bag is carefully made by hand in the Tanner Bates workshop by skilled leather craftsmen. Our patterns are selectively positioned on the hides and the leather is cut by hand using specialist semi-circular knives.
Tanner Bates bags are made to last. All edges and stitching are exposed so that should the stitching ever break repair is simple.
Our Naturally tanned leather is tough and can take a battering. We stitch it with a durable rot resistant thread which will give years of service. Occasionally a dose of Tanner Bates Liquid wax will make it look good as new.
Naturally tanned leather benefits from and will look its very best if given an occasional dose of natural waxes and oils. Our Leather care information card is included with every purchase.