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  • Writer's picturePeter Smith

Did you know these facts about leather? - fun and interesting facts from history

Updated: Jul 7, 2023


Leather Wall panels
Leather Wall panels

Did you know these facts about leather?.


  • A cobbler is a shoe mender. A codwainer is a shoe maker.

  • In the 17th century, leather was used as "wallpaper".

  • The average person is wearing four leather products at any given time.

  • "Top Grain" leather is not the highest quality, despite the name which leads people to think that top grain is the highest quality. In fact Full Grain is the highest quality, produced from top grain.

  • The older the animal, the thicker the hide. Perhaps the saying is true "we develop a thick skin over time".

  • White leather is the hardest to produce.

  • Hides are from larger animals (e.g. cow or horse), skins are from smaller animals (e.g. calf or sheep).

  • As leather contains pores, it changes in texture and appearance depending on what environment it is in. In a fairly humid environment, leather becomes softer as it soaks up the moisture that’s in the air so therefore, a dry environment makes the leather much tougher.

  • The weight of leather is measured in "ounces per square foot". For instance, if a square foot of leather were to weigh three ounces, it would be referred to as 3-ounce leather and would be approximately 1/8 of an inch thick. It is a rough translation, but a heavier weight describes a thicker leather.

  • The first shoelace was produced in 1790.

  • The first shoes assigned to left and right feet were invented in 1818.

  • Dating back to the early 19th century, wooden golf balls were replaced with leather. Those newer leather balls were stuffed with enough feathers to fill an entire top hat!

  • In the 16th century the English used to bring their own handmade leather mugs to enjoy a pint at a local pub.

  • Leather was used among the seafaring people as sails.

  • In the 1960’s, sheep leather was used for bed-ridden patients. The soft leather helped to prevent and even treat bed sores for extended stay patients.

  • The first leather wallets came concurrently with the introduction of paper money in the 17th century.

  • The great Zulu Chieftain and warrior, Shaka Zulu (c. 1787–1828) introduced a larger, heavier version of the Nguni shield made from cow hide. Different coloured shields distinguished different troops within his army. Some had black shields, others used white shields with black spots, and some had white shields with brown spots, while others used pure brown or white shields.

  • Urine was once used to tan animal skins.

Now, when someone asks "Did you know these facts about leather?" you can say you know at least a few!


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