One of our most interesting leather is the reproduction of the historic Russian Leather by one of England's most prestigious tannery J&FJ Baker & Co Ltd.
"As the only remaining Oak Bark tannery in Britain, our process is the closest tanning method to that used to produce the original Russian Leather." - J&FJ Baker & Co Ltd.
Russian leather was produced during the 17th to 20th Centuries and was effective trade commodity with the West. The leather itself was tanned over a long period of time which created superior strength, insect and water resistance. The leather was cured with birch tar oil and other natural oils and greases which added to durability of the leather. These oils and greases gave the leather a beautiful and distinct aroma. However, due to the Russian Revolution in the early part of the 20th Century the secret recipe and the art of the leather's tanning was lost.
That was until in 1973 when the discovery of the shipwreck The Metta Catharina. The ship set sail in 1786 from Saint Petersburg to Genoa. The ship hit a storm and and sought shelter off the Plymouth Sound, Devon. With the crew able to reach shore, the ship broke free from its anchor and washed towards Raveness Point before sinking. Among its cargo the divers found rolls of Russian Leather. The outer hides were badly damaged but the inner hides remained preserved.
Later, after six years of studying the leather J&FJ Baker & Co Ltd with the help of experts were able to reproduce The Russian Leather. Their Russian Leather is made with exactly the same processes used for tanning the original Russian Leather.
“We have patiently experimented with different quantities of these barks, to rediscover the ancient recipe that yields a leather that smells and handles as well as the original Russian Leather.” – J&FJ Baker & Co LTD