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  1. #1
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    18th July 11
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    Traditional - Red Deer? vs US deer/Elk leathers

    I hope I got this in the correct area.

    Since I'm just starting to learn leather craft, I am researching everything I can. One of the problems I have come up against is the types of leather we have here in the US that are readily available VS traditional leathers from Scotland and how nobody I have found deals with the topic...

    I did some research on it and found it very eye opening, at least for me. This may be old news, but I didn't find it in any of the searches here. I may just be daft though.

    The first question is this, is most of the traditional Scottish leather items made from the Red Deer? I can't tell for sure. If not, then this whole thing is just scientific twaddle.

    Next thing is the actual scientific classification of each. Oddly enough, the Elk/Wapiti is very close.
    Kingdom down to Family are all the same. With Family being Cervidae. From there the classifications go to Sub family, Genus and Species.

    Here is the boring/fun stuff.
    Sub family; US deer(White and Mule) W & M - Capreolinae. Red AND Elk - Cervinae.

    Genus; USD W & M - Odocoileus. Red AND Elk - Cervus.

    Species; USD W - O. Virginianus, M - O. Hemionus. Red - C. Elephus (funny name) and Elk - C. Canadensis.


    The questions this leaves me with are these;
    Does Elk and Red leathers have the same grain pattern?
    Are the natural colors the same when tanned?
    Is the thickness and feel the same?

  2. #2
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    4th November 10
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    I totally saw this on fbook first! Lol, thought I would chime in, although I don't have an answer. I would guess you have to go by what was available at the time?
    [-[COLOR="DimGray"]Floreat Majestas[/COLOR]-|-[COLOR="Red"]Semper Vigilans[/COLOR]-|-[COLOR="Navy"]Aut Pax Aut Bellum[/COLOR]-|-[I][B]Go mbeannai Dia duit[/B][/I]-]
    [COLOR="DarkGreen"][SIZE="2"]"I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels."[/SIZE][/COLOR] [B]- John Calvin[/B]

  3. #3
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    18th July 11
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    Yeah, his post got me to thinking more about it. I'm kind of uptight about things sometime.

    Probably on the availability, but since the Elk is pretty cheap and nice to work with, it's a real bonus. And, I don't have a big stash of leather/hide yet...

    Look at these pictures, amazing similarity isn't it.




  4. #4
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    4th November 10
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    Yea, it seems the biggest difference is in their lower jaw/neck.
    [-[COLOR="DimGray"]Floreat Majestas[/COLOR]-|-[COLOR="Red"]Semper Vigilans[/COLOR]-|-[COLOR="Navy"]Aut Pax Aut Bellum[/COLOR]-|-[I][B]Go mbeannai Dia duit[/B][/I]-]
    [COLOR="DarkGreen"][SIZE="2"]"I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels."[/SIZE][/COLOR] [B]- John Calvin[/B]

  5. #5
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    18th July 11
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    Agreed. The racks look much the same. Which is nice. I have two 5x5 junk elk racks that I am going to use for buttons, handles ect... If I have to opportunity to be period correct I will take it.

  6. #6
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    12th December 10
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    I have never worked red deer.

    I have worked quite a few domestic leathers. If/when you are comfortable with a few weights of cowhide, elk (you already got) maybe pigskin and something really soft like kid goat, all of which are relatively inexpensive well; at that point you should be OK ordering likely more expensive authentic red deer hide.

    I would weigh heavily any contribution artificer makes to this thread, he has worked with a greater variety of leather than I.

  7. #7
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    28th October 05
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    red deer are also found over the rest of europe
    the german tan leather is german elk(red deer)
    I'm an 18th century guy born into the 20th century and have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

    We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing"

  8. #8
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    Great. Thanks Joe!
    I did not realize that. I almost bought some German leather yesterday but couldn't get my instructor friend on the phone... I don't start class with him for another week.

  9. #9
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    28th October 05
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    the german tan is a fish oil tan that has been used for along time in europe
    it was the same leather used to make workmans knee pants and breeches in the 18th century

    it is a easy leathe to work with but will not take comerical dyes well

    I have used walnut hulls to dye some and it came out a nice brown

    most 18th century sporrans I've seen are the natural cream color that you see in German tan

    There will bug bites in the german leather, but if you use brain tan mule deer you will have barbed wire marks along the back, you can't get away from this modern world.

    Brain tanned american elk don't seem to have as many wire marks

    Another site to find german tan besides crazy crow trading but not any cheaper
    http://www.trapper-kai.com/leather.html
    I'm an 18th century guy born into the 20th century and have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

    We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing"

  10. #10
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    As an 18th century (colonial) re-enactor, the deer we hunt (whitetail) was called the Virginia red deer in the trade documents of the period. The hide was highly prized in Europe because of its softness, making it perfect for gloves soft bags and any other leather items needing a soft, luxurious feel. The deer was called "red deer" because it was harvested in the summer when the deer were "redder" in color. It was taken then because there were less veins and the pores were smaller, not having to support a thick winter coat of hair. Hope this helps!
    Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.

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