HISTORY OF THE LEATHER
A 200 YEAR OLD GIFT FROM UNDER THE SEA
On December 10th 1786 a strong gale in the English Channel forced the Danish Brigantine the Metta Catharina von Flensburg to seek shelter in Plymouth Sound in south west England. The cargo was leather and hemp from St. Petersburg Russia bound for the port of Genoa. During the heavy storm the frigate broke anchor and was swept ashore and sank on the Cornish side of Plymouth Sound. All the crew made it safely to land but the ship and cargo were lost for more than 200 years.
In 1973 divers from the Plymouth branch of the British sub -aqua club found a ships bell 30 metres below the surface and it identified the vessel. Further exploration revealed bundles of hides littering the sea bed, remarkably preserved after two centuries immersed in black mud.
Investigation by the British Leather Manufacturers Research Association has confirmed that the leather is almost certainly reindeer tanned in the traditional Russian way using willow bark and birch tar oil which gives it the characteristic aroma and ability to resist water.
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