The 1916 Historical Sketch of Leathermaking is essentially a Platonic dialogue about leather. The Tanner begins with the first known leathermakers, the Egyptians. Leathermaking then spreads to Europe, and the European settlers bring it to America. There, the settlers encounter a group who knew the leather trade and knew it well: the Native Americans, who’d been making leather with even better processes, using fats to soften skins. The pioneers then appropriated this technique and took this leather, called “buckskin”, out West (hence the iconic garb of Western films). And so, leather American goods started their march towards being the ubiquitous commodity they are now.
It’s not a stretch to say that we may be the only land whose leather industry precedes its nationhood, and while the American-made leather industry faces competition from synthetics and outsourcing, there are still plenty of craftsmen who take pride in their hide. These products come from a variety of locations around the USA — and their yields, from handmade sporting goods to handcrafted boots, pay homage to the history and legacy of one of our nation’s longest standing industries.