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  1. #1
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    Can this cantle be saved?

    Hi folks,

    I've got this Victorian horsehair sporran but the leather cantle has seen much better days. Is there anything I can do to make it look better?

    As this is not the first cantle I've seen in such shape, does anyone know what happens to leather to cause it to deteriorate this way. It doesn't look so much dry and cracked as melted!

    Cheers!IMG_9009.JPG

  2. #2
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    5th August 14
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    The cell walls of the leather have separated and exploded over time due to humidity and drying. I do not think there is a way repair this. However...

    There is a way to fill the voids with an epoxy that stabilizes the shape and creates a solid mold. This could be sanded and finished but would not look natural. Afterward, a veneer of super thin leather could be applied.

    I think a replacement cantle is needed. I wish I had a better observation.

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  4. #3
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    27th October 09
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    It's really hard to tell what's going on from the photo. Not that it's a poor quality photo; it's just difficult to see detail when it's all black.

    How does the leather feel to the touch? Is it hard and brittle feeling, or soft and crumbly? Is it pliable at all?

    I've seen many an old leather saddle deteriorate from heat and lack of care, but usually when they start to break down, the leather will crack and crumble away. When that happens on a dyed surface, you'll see bits of tan leather come through. I'm not seeing that on your cantle. It's possible that you (or someone) applied polish repeatedly over the leather as it started to deteriorate, and that might explain all the bumpiness and odd textures I'm seeing. But if this isn't something that you've been adding color/finish to over time, then I'm not sure what's going on.

    How has this sporran been stored?

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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    It's really hard to tell what's going on from the photo. Not that it's a poor quality photo; it's just difficult to see detail when it's all black.

    How does the leather feel to the touch? Is it hard and brittle feeling, or soft and crumbly? Is it pliable at all?

    I've seen many an old leather saddle deteriorate from heat and lack of care, but usually when they start to break down, the leather will crack and crumble away. When that happens on a dyed surface, you'll see bits of tan leather come through. I'm not seeing that on your cantle. It's possible that you (or someone) applied polish repeatedly over the leather as it started to deteriorate, and that might explain all the bumpiness and odd textures I'm seeing. But if this isn't something that you've been adding color/finish to over time, then I'm not sure what's going on.

    How has this sporran been stored?

    It is a very odd finish and it was like this when I acquired it. Like you say, leather normally dries and cracks and the top surface may flake off in places. This is tough but pliable and the only way I can describe the odd surface texture is that it looks as though it has been lying face down on a range of surfaces and taken their imprint.

  7. #5
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    This looks to me about like an old shoe coating that was sold to make leather look spit shined. It was a plastic that you spread over your stuff. After a while it ended up looking just like this if you left it on too long or did not renew it.
    Steve Ashton
    Forum Owner

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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post
    This looks to me about like an old shoe coating that was sold to make leather look spit shined. It was a plastic that you spread over your stuff. After a while it ended up looking just like this if you left it on too long or did not renew it.
    Now that is interesting, I'll need to look this stuff up. This could very well be what you describe. Shame it wasn't just spit shined, would have lasted the test of time better if it had been!

  10. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post
    This looks to me about like an old shoe coating that was sold to make leather look spit shined. It was a plastic that you spread over your stuff. After a while it ended up looking just like this if you left it on too long or did not renew it.
    I'm with, Steve. My first thought was that it looks like Leather Lustre that is starting to peal away. Now, how do you get it off, I'm uncertain, not being a user of this product myself. My first thoughts are either actone or heat... but I'm not recommending either.

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  12. #8
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    24th September 04
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    Back in my days in the Marine Corps, Leather Luster was one of the things that would get you into more trouble than anything else. I looks good when first applied but does not allow the leather to breath and is a royal pain to touch up or remove well enough to let you spit shine properly afterwards. You could always tell the young Marine who had tried it and failed. The shoe never looked good afterwards.

    The Leather Luster company does sell a remover but I have never seen it used successfully.

    If this cantle has been treated with Leather Luster I would suggest contacting a leather worker and asking them to duplicate a new one.
    Steve Ashton
    Forum Owner

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  14. #9
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    IMG_9025.jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post
    Back in my days in the Marine Corps, Leather Luster was one of the things that would get you into more trouble than anything else. I looks good when first applied but does not allow the leather to breath and is a royal pain to touch up or remove well enough to let you spit shine properly afterwards. You could always tell the young Marine who had tried it and failed. The shoe never looked good afterwards.

    The Leather Luster company does sell a remover but I have never seen it used successfully.

    If this cantle has been treated with Leather Luster I would suggest contacting a leather worker and asking them to duplicate a new one.
    Thanks for all your suggestions. I came across this image today on the internet. It's someone selling a WW1 Gordon Highlanders sporran. Looking at the cantle, the same thing has happened to this leather. To apply the leather lustre, would the badge not have to be removed first and then put back on? This would surely be a pain - to remove and re secure those fiddly cotter pins. I'm just not sure.

  15. #10
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    Leather military sporran cantles of that type from the late 19th/early 20th century if they haven't been properly maintained, turn out with what you have. Moisture has most likely damaged that one and I don't think anything can really bring it back to the original look without disassembling it. I have two, one from the Boer war era that has always been taken care of, and one from the 20's that got wet and not dried properly and is in just a tad better shape than yours. Getting the badge off and on is extremely difficult as you surmise, not fun at all. I highly doubt that is liquid lustre on it, that's more of an American shortcut than British.

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