Doese anyone know how people used to tann in the old days before all these chemicals and stuff was made?
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Tanning has been a human endeavor ever since Adam and Eve left Eden.As the story goes,God Himself made the first animal skin clothes for them.The Gospels further mention animal skins being tanned to hold new wine that was just made.The actual work of converting a raw skin into usable leather is no trade secret since every race of people knew how to utilize the skins of animals from the frozen arctic regions to the rain forests.From the barren deserts to the rolling plains ancient man has been tanning and using skins for their every day needs.We know that Native Americans used the brain from the animal they killed in the tanning process.The grey matter was a source of lanolin that penetrated the hide much like any oil we use today.The skin was rolled teepee style over a smudge fire to waterproof the hide caused by the kreosote in the wood smoke.In the days before Columbus even stepped foot on his boat,tanning was a craft that was done in any convienient place.Know where St.Peter's is in Rome? Michelangelo wrote that he used to buy leather from the tanners who set up their own tannerys right there in the Vatican Square.Later,England was famous for its leather tannerys and those that came to the New World took their trade with them.In Colonial Williamsburg,they still have some of the old sunken brick lined vats that the tanners soaked their hides in.Chemicals used were basically no different then we still use today.Aluminum sulfate,salt and water.Then there were the quick tans that used acid bases but had a very short shelf life to them.The only trick to tanning is getting the hides shaved down thin enough so that the chemicals soak through and do their job.Taxidermy tanning,the kind that we all relate to,has been around for over 100 years.Perfected by men like Wm.T.Hornaday,Carl E.Akeley and the Grand Master himself,Sinclair Clark.Sincalir always told those who aspired to be tanners that it took a weak mind and a strong back to be a good tanner.I hoped this helped you a little,best of luck to you in taxidermy.
Do some research Tom, there is a very old method post last month.
Brain tan (02/13/2003)
Size: 2K. Last Modified: Thursday, February 13, 2003
With your interest in early methods I thought you might like to know about braintan.com. An interesting site with some things you might want to try sometime. Jeff
Goes back many thousands of years....even further than recorded history.
Probably very well one of the Worlds' first industries and arts when you think about it.
Tanned hide = clothing, shelter, tools, etc.
Of course the animal being consumed for = food.
Early man prob learned quickly that 'raw hides' decomposed fast and soon lost any useful value for making things.
Perhaps many ancient tanning techniques where obtained by shear accident, but well documented via simple observation.. : Such as some early human leaving a raw hide draped over a tree branch for a few months...forgetting about it...then visiting the same spot a few months later while hunting more game. Suppose it had rained frequent those past few months and the hide had been kept relatively moist...soaking up tannins from the tree bark all this time.
An observant caveman would at least notice that the forgoten hide had not deteriorated..picked it up....then scratched his head.