05 July 2012

'Real Leather'?

'It says it is made of leather' to which I would respond... "Yes but there is leather and there is leather"

Confused? Please don't be...

I did some digging around and found the following definitions of the different types of leather that we find used in Filofax personal organisers.

  • Full Grain Leather: leather which has not been altered beyond hair removal. Full grain leather is the most genuine type of leather, as it retains all of the original texture and markings of the original hide.
  • Corrected Grain: leather that has been buffed to remove blemishes, then covered with a new, artificial grain created using pigments and other finishes.
  • Split Leather: leather made from the lower layers of a hide/skin that have been split away from the upper, or grain layers. Split leather is not as robust and full grain leather.
  • Suede: is created from the flesh (inner) side of a hide, which is buffed to remove the surface and then flattened to create the suede effect. Suede refers to the process rather than the type of leather.
  • Nubuc: is created using the grain (outer) side, giving it added strength and durability. It is buffed and brushed to create a soft, velvety effect.
  • Aniline Leather: leather that is coloured with a transparent dye. The effect is applied by immersing the leather in a dye bath. Because the finish is transparent and shows the natural markings of the leather, only the best quality hides can be used.
  • Vegetable Tanned Leather: utilises tannin and other organic materials such as bark instead of the traditional chemicals
  • Bonded Leather: a process where off cuts of leather are cut up and mixed with resin and then pressed into a sheet of leather
A lot of these different types of leather are used in a variety of products, not just Filofax personal organisers, so when it comes to care products you have plenty of products to choose from to keep your organiser soft and supple.

19 comments:

  1. A nice summary, but one picky point...chemical tanning is not 'traditional', it is the vegetable tanning that is the old way of doing it. Chemical tanning came in in the 19th century, but even today the best leathers are made using traditional vegetable dies in places such as Nigeria.

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    1. My vegetable tanned leathers are outstanding so I would have to agree.

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  2. I am assuming the Cuban is full grain leather. I use an Allen bible....produced in England...one of the best Bibles in the world...and it has Highland Goat Skin...luxurious! I also carry a leather satchel made by the Saddleback Leather Company....I love leather products!

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    1. I too have an Allen Bible with the Highland Goatskin, mine is made in Glasgow, Scotland. If you have one made in England, it is a rare item indeed!

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  3. Never seen the spelling Nubuc before - I always thought it was nubuck. Goes to show...

    I always think bonded leather is the chicken mcnugget of leather!

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    1. I've always found bonded leather a bit rubbish, when I was younger I had a few belts & watchstraps made from it, they're not as good at handling creases as real (whole, whatever) leather and start to crumble far more easily than plastic/PU products... I'd rather have honest plastic than this stuff in most uses - probably okay for decorative leather picture frames, or something that's just sat there with no pressure or bending etc applied.

      This makes it different to chicken nuggets, which some people at least like, and things like mechanically recovered meat, which gets a bad name but is actually an excellent way to stop waste/rotting meat going into landfills! (steps off soapbox)

      Anyway that's a well useful guide there, so thanks Steve!

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  4. Since seeing this video about making leather wallets, and being concerned about the thickness of leather used…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8A03e-AhJE

    …I obtained a piece of skived leather from a damaged Filofax….the high end Filofax leather had been skived to a thickness of 0.30mm to 0.50 mm. I think this is a reason why modern organisers don’t last long.

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    1. I agree. Compare the leather on a modern Filofax with a traditional, British made pre-1990 model, I reckon they've halved the thickness of leather used. It feels thicker than it really is because of the backing card used. The difference between a modern Filofax binder and a Time Manager is similarly staggering.

      You can see why Filofax are often able to offer big discounts and why modern Filofax binders can look a bit sad after a bit of use!

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    2. What are the models or signs I can look for to get hold of a "British made pre-1990 model"?

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  5. Another useful term (for me anyway) is red rot - when vegetable tanned leather starts to degrade and go powdery.

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  6. So what sort of leather are those organisers which are made of 'Italian Leather'? I was looking at an A5 Bridle and an A5 Pimlico this morning on eBay, which are both 'Italian Leather', but other than perhaps ruling out the bonded variety (and probably suede/nubuck) could perhaps be almost any of the others. Any ideas?

    (by the way - the Bridle got away but the Pimlico should be in the post to me right about now!)

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  7. My Finsbury says "real leather" on the inside flap, which could mean any of the categories!!! I must say, I prefer a much softer leather, but I am afraid of scratches and not being able to buff them out. A good job the Filofaxes do wear out after a time..... nothing to beat a bit of enabling!!! I am thrilled with my black A5 Finsbury. It certainly takes a lot of day to day use and throwing in and out of bags,and being in black both looks professional and does not stain. The only other comparable love for me would be an A5 purple Malden..... but for now I'm a happy bunny.

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    1. From filofax.co.uk's Finsbury listing: "Soft leather printed with traditional ‘rambling’ grain." - sounds like "corrected grain" to me?

      But I'm no expert on the topic!

      It seems a consensus here that the oiled leather models handle scratches almost supernaturally well, and I can verify that mine's in a completely different league of indestructability to my Finsbury, which is showing just a little wear on the corners (it's 6 years old).

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    2. Shanti, which oiled leather Filofax do you have?? Is the Malden in an oiled leather... ie more durable than the Finsbury??? I need the larger ring size A5 really. My Finsbury Filo is holding up well, but is only a couple of years old.Thanks for the info. xx

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    3. D'oh, replied to thread not your post, hope you see this! Kendals ftw!!

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    4. Butanben: I have a mini Finsbury in blue which looks feels and smells like leather throughout. The A5 Electric blue Finsbury I got online from WHSmiths in their sale however seems to have a vinyl section in the back where you would put a note pad. The rest feels like leather but being wrapped in plastic on arrival it still retains the plastic smell so far.

      I love the feel of Malden but for me the leather is a bit too soft as I like the option of standing my binders up bookstyle and the larger format of something as soft as a Malden didn't look like it would survive that for too long. I like binders with firmer covers too. So although the Malden is divine, I'm pleased I went Finsbury for the A5.

      The Malden feels supple enough to be oiled but if it is, its only very slightly. When I have felt oiled leathers in the past they have felt slightly oily almost sticky to the touch and can suffer from 'bloom' (looks a bit like mildew) when stored. You can usually buff the bloom away with a lint free cloth which brings new oil to the surface.

      I too thought newbuck was spelt with a k at the end.

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    5. Butanben: As an ex-shoe retailer if you can get a neutral shoe cream for leather I use Maltonian brand that will feed the leather to stop it drying out and the neutral will keep the two tone you have with Finsbury. It would work well for Malden too although you could also go the equestrian route for such a fine leather and use saddle soap to give it a good clean and then Neetsfoot oil to feed the leather. DH & I use it on walking boots a couple of times a year and it works a treat. For something that wouldn't risk any oil stains on pages go with the Maltonian or make sure you leave the leather overnight to let the oil soak in and give it a good buff.

      Oiled leathers tend to feel a little oily to the touch and my pocket Malden has a smooth feel but not the slightly sticky/oily touch I'd expect from a truly oiled leather. I like Finsbury as I prefer firmer covers to my binders as I like to stand them up like books and I'm not sure a soft leather like the Malden would take this too well.

      My A5 Finsbury in Electric blue has what feels like a vinyl area inside the back cover where you would slip a notepad, although my Mini in blue (the paler blue) is all leather.

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  8. I have the Kendal, which is amazingly resilient - and David Popely mentioned here that the Richmond was very similar.

    The Kendal A5 is still kicking about on e-Bay UK, usually in the brown though they did it in black as well, and that has 30mm rings, a rear notepad pocket as well, it's a very lovely binder IMO.

    The Malden isn't in that type of leather, I've handled them in the shops a couple of times (oh boy does that sound weird!!) and they're completely different.

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  9. Hi which hide do they use to make the filofax? pig/buffalo/cow?

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