Sunday, November 22, 2015

Russian Leather Chairs

17th century Oak Cromwellian back stool
Byrd, William, whose home was located on the James River, gave his English merchants both large and small commissions, to be filled upon receipt of the tobacco and bills of exchange forwarded by him.  In 1685, he wrote for a hat and a pair of shoes, later on, for a saddle and letter paper.  In 1690, he ordered half a dozen riding-cloths and two or three pairs of linen stocks. While his house at Westover was in the process of being built in 1690, he instructed his English merchants to ship to him in Virginia a bedstead, bed, and curtains, looking-glass, one small and one-middling oval table and a dozen Russian leather chairs. Source: Letters of William Byrd, June 5-6, 1685; August 8, 1690.

Russia leather is a particular form of bark-tanned cow leather which became popular during the 17th century.  After tanned, it is further distinguished by birch oil which is worked into the rear face of the leather, providing a leather which is particularly hard-wearing, flexible and resistant to water. 

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