Preparation of Leather - Choice, care, and cleaning of Boots.

First Process

The hides are steeped for some days in pits containing lime-water; this loosens the hair, which is then removed by scraping the skins on large upright blocks with a semi-circular knife.

Second Process

This turns the skin into a waterproof substance by drawing out the moisture. The skins are laid in deep vats, then covered with oak-bark and water. This is a lengthy process, because if the tanning is hurried, the fibrous nature (on which depend the flexibility and durability of the leather) is not preserved.

Third Process

After the tanning follows the greasing and waxing, to render the leather pliable. If the leather is to be coloured, now follows the dyeing.

Varieties

Glace', patent, calf, and kid leather are amongst the many kinds used in the manufacture of boots and shoes. The soles of strong boots are usually made of ox-hide.

MOROCCO is the name given to goat skins prepared in the manner first invented in Morocco, but which is now most successfully carried out in London. Goat skins are better suited to this method than any other, as they absorb dye more thoroughly and produce richer colours.

PATENT is the name given to the varnished surface produced by a "japan," of which the chief constituents are linseed oil and Prussian blue boiled together. Seven or eight coatings are usually applied, the final one being mixed with copal varnish to produce a more glossy surface.

BUCKSKIN AND DOESKIN are both the prepared hide of the deer. The finest tanned calf skin comes from the neighbourhood of Bordeaux; the climate, bark, and water, combined with the French method, enable continental tanners to produce a leather of light weight and particularly clean, soft, fine nature.

Choice Of Boots

CHEAP BOOTS quickly become shabby and of poor shape; they also soon burst into holes, letting in water and so rendering the wearer liable to chills. Handsewn footgear is much more durable than machine-sewn or pegged. When being measured the customer should stand on a piece of paper, and have the foot outlined on it, as this allows for the spreading of the foot during walking.

Tight Boots

Tight boots are most injurious, (1) They, by interfering with the circulation, produce cold feet and chilblains. (2) They cause excrescences, such as corns and bunions. (3) They produce an awkward gait and much suffering.

HIGH HEELS are also to be avoided. (1) They are often the primary cause of weak ankles. (2) The weight of the body is thrown forward, the strain coming on parts not adapted for the purpose. (3) No natural grace of movement is possible.

THIN SOLES are much more tiring than thick, and should not be chosen by those who have to stand or walk much.

LARGE FEET look smaller in brightly polished boots, as the gloss, reflecting the light, breaks up the outline; but those who suffer with tender feet should abjure patent leather : also half a size larger is necessary owing to want of elasticity in this kind of leather.

CALF SKIN, or thin leather boots, wear better and are warmer than kid; the leather should be as soft and pliable as is consistent with strength.