This section is from the book "The Manufacture Of Boots And Shoes: Being A Modern Treatise Of All The Processes Of Making And Manufacturing Footgear", by F. Y. Golding. Also available from Amazon: The Manufacture Of Boots And Shoes.
Real Russia leather is very strong, pliant, and durable, and is distinguished by its peculiar odour. It is tanned with bark from the willow, poplar, or larch, and the scent is given with birch-bark oil. Many imitations are produced, some of them only having the scented odour for the characteristics of this expensive leather.
Russia Hide is tanned leather, and is usually fine in the grain. It has no grease used in its manufacture, and is not adapted for a hot-footed wearer. The want of evenness in colour makes it somewhat difficult to cut, and great care should be taken to match up during the cutting.
Shoe Butts, sometimes termed "slitters," are used for heavy work They are tanned and curried, and are oftentimes heavily weighted. Some are memeled on the grain, and sold as memel shoe butts.
Satin Hide is the grain split of a large hide, and is tanned with hemlock. The grain is buffed, and gives that smooth appearance so noticeable. Owing to the largeness of the side, it is considered an easy leather to cut up. The backbone is to be avoided for vamps, and the systematic placing of the pattern can be carried out in this leather, if clean on the face, to its fullest extent.
Grain, Glove Hide, etc., are the grain splits of similar hides to those used for satin, but the grain has not been buffed, and the different mode of dressing imparts a softer feeling to the leather. The scars, or growth marks, as they are sometimes supposed to be, should be avoided where any strain is likely to come.
Splits are the flesh splits of hides used for satin, grain, or glove. Cheap work is produced from this leather. Second-flesh splits are sometimes taken, and are known as "fleshes," or "slabs."
These latter hemlock-tanned leathers are not so tough in fibre as calf, etc., tanned with other barks. This is owing to the strength of the hemlock, which quickly tans through. To prevent some of the harshness, the liquors are made weak for upper leathers, and a slower process adopted when tanning.
Glace Kids are produced from skins similar to those used for glove kid, and are tawed pretty much on the same lines. When selecting them for boots and shoes, an absence of "veins" should be considered a good feature. The skin should also be mellow, but not flabby. Harsh skins should not be confounded with firm skins. They should be evenly dyed. The same remarks, emphasized, made about glove kid, here apply.
Kip * was formerly the term used to describe the skins of young animals, or yearlings, but is now chiefly used to denote the size of skin. They are tanned, or curried, either whole or in sides. They are usually cut right up.
Porpoise makes a soft, strong, durable leather, used for men's work and laces. White whale is often substituted for porpoise.
Kangaroo skins may be either tanned, tawed, or chromed. When tanned, mimosa is the agent largely used. It is an excellent leather for quality, being strong, elastic, and thin.