Conservation of leather18 April 2006
The conservation of leather, skin and related materials is an area that, until now, has had little representation in book form. Marion Kite, senior conservator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK, and Roy Thomson, recently retired chief executive of the Leather Conservation Centre, Northampton, UK, have prepared the first text of its kind. It is both authoritative and comprehensive. The book covers all aspects of skin and leather preservation, from clothing, cuir bouilli, and taxidermy to bookbindings. It discusses the tools and equipment needed to transform and preserve a wide range of products including fur, parchment, feathers, fish and reptile skins. It outlines the history and development of leather manufacture, the leather making process, and what makes each combination of skin type and production technique suitable for a particular purpose. Most importantly, it describes how to recognise the animal species and the processing methods employed. There is significant coverage of the mechanisms of deterioration and the technical and chemical elements necessary for conservation as well as care, storage and display. Each of the book's twenty-three sections are written by world-renowned experts in the fields, for instance professor Tony Covington wrote the chemistry of tanning materials, and the text obviously benefits from such experience; it is lucid and comprehensive. Seventeen case studies from the archives of the Leather Conservation Centre round out this informative reference work. One of the writers is the late Betty Haines - it was to be her last written contribution in a series of publications that stretch a career lasting over fifty years. The book acts as a fitting tribute to her efforts in developing leather conservation. The full title is 'Conservation of leather and related materials' and is edited by Marion Kite and Roy Thomson. It is priced at £49.99. ISBN 0750648813. Hardback: full colour.