Hide Tanning 1769

Here are some images from hide tanning workshops from Diderot’s Encyclopedia, 1769 that I found interesting as a leather worker and occasional hide tanner.

Tools for the tanner, the beam, currier knife, slick, tub, and the heater. From the Encyclopedia of Sciences, Arts and Trades, Diderot and D’Alembert.

Chamoiseur, From the Encyclopedia of Sciences, Arts and Trades, Diderot and D’Alembert.

If you have done any hide tanning you’ll recognize the tools of the trade.  Not much changes for the small-time home tanner.

From the Encyclopedia of Sciences, Arts and Trades, Diderot and D’Alembert.

I suspect this is some hot and smelly work and judging by the way they’re dressed it is a hot room.  The only large traditional tannery I have visited was in Morocco and it had an odor on a hot summer day that hit you like a brick wall.  I’m not sure what they’re doing with the fire at this stage but maybe adding some amount of smoke rather than heat.

Any thoughts or insights?

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3 thoughts on “Hide Tanning 1769

    • Yes, but they need a lot more time and smoke than could be provided there, even to just get a bit of color. I smoke my hides as well and it takes a lot of time and huge amounts of smoke. I’m still not sure what these guys are doing unless they are just heating them or singing them.

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