I started taxidermy several years ago, using dry preserve. I wanted to try comercial tanning, so I sent a hide of my own to a tannery. When I got it back, I left it boxed, after looking at it, because we were going to move. After a couple of years, I took it out of the box to mount it, and found out that it was falling apart like tissue paper, just pick it up, and it would tear. "What could have been wrong?"
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I would bet that dermestid beetles found the hide and the larvae have been feeding on it for quite a while. Same thing happened to one of my tanned skins. I now keep tanned hides in large plastic bags for long term storage. Throw in a couple moth balls before sealing up the bag with a twist tie.
Moths and dermestids would primarily eat the hair but the hide should have survived, especially if oiled. Probably an alum tan, poorly done.
Dale, plastic is a BAD choice!
Any humidity at all in your area and the bags will sweat, causing the hides to mold or rot!
If you put it in plastic, put it in the freezer; it will keep for years that way.
Most tanneries will not gaurantee(sp?) a hide more than one or two years if you do not mount it.
You are right on the money about this. I should have clarified however that I live in the desert of Utah where the humidity is very low year round. I've kept some Pepi-tanned coyotes and red fox in plastic bags at room temperature for up to 17 years (no excuse for that kind of delay, other than they were my own) before making rugs or mountain man articles out of them. I can honestly say that the quality of the hides was maintained for that duration. Having said that, it would be wrong to recommend this type of storage treatment for the other 95% of the United States. Thanks for pointing that out.
This is just a possibility, I had one do the very same thing to me, only it had sat around in a guys bedroom for about five years. It look good when I got it, then when I examined it up close the leather side was cracking it spots like around a bullet hole or a cut, I thougt no problem I just rehydrate it and fix the holes and mount it. It was'nt 30 seconds after the hide was in the water it started falling apart like a wet paper towel. I asked around and the old timers said it was probably acid rot some tanneries do not nutralize they hides after pickling and the acid slowly rots or eats away at the hide, braking down the leather,causing it to fall apart if there isn't hide paste or so kind of glue holding down or together.