I need help! I realize I do not have deer hides but an unable to find anything specific to my need. These pelts are kept on walls (with fur on them). Bobcat is 25 years old, Kangaroo & Sheep pelts' age is unknown but are starting to stiffen somewhat. Bobcat is very dry & most of tail has fallen off (I still have it, tho). Besides the extreme dryness, they all seem to be in good shape.
I don't know which tanning methods were used but all were purchased at retail, with the latter two pelts bought abroad. I'm looking for something simple, such as lanolin, bear grease, or any product readily available, inexpensive treatment for both sides of the pelts.
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don't last forever. 25 years is a long time to have anything. I am not an expert on how long these tanned hides will last whithout being kept in cold storage or in an airtight container. I would say you should NOT try to rehydrate them or work them at all. Maybe you can back them with fabric or felt using glue to keep them in one piece. Once leather of anytype gets dried out (rot) and starts breaking apart it is almost impossible to restore it back to the original condition. Maybe someone else will have a different take on this. Good luck and enjoy them while you can.
I do believe your idea of putting a backing on them will extend the life of the pelt for a bit, but I really this these pelts have years left in them--with a little TLC. They are very beautiful, 80% of the leather has not dried completely out, and I can't imagine just storing them away (making them fully visible to anyone who visits my home). I'm going to try lanolin or a suede preservation product (on the very dry areas on the hide side and just keep lightly brushing the fur side.
Thanks for the luck. I'll make a point to post after I've tried something. Maybe it will lead to other preservation discoveries. Happy New Year!
Take Jims advice, and put a backing on them, or enjoy your parts and pieces collection...Flexible adhesives and felt (or canvas for real heavy stuff) has been used with success for many years. He gave you good advice!