I’ve always heard “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” Likewise, you can’t make extraordinary leather products from less than extraordinary leather. It all begins with the leather. We use full-grain American Steerhide and full-grain American Buffalo that is vegetable and hand-tanned especially for us at a small, local tannery here in Tennessee. Our other leathers include Italian Bridle Leather and American Alligator.
What We Are and What We’re Not
Leather is a passion for me. There are more kinds of leather and leather processing out there than you can shake a stick at. You can mold leather into just about any shape or form. You can make every hide look just alike. You can dye it green, blue or even pink. You can apply a finish, coat it, spray it or make it look slick and shiny. You can process it and manipulate it until it’s totally blemish free – just like the seats in your automobile. That’s not what we’re about at Col. Littleton.
No “Condominium Cows” Allowed
The leather from which most of our products are made is from full-grain American steerhides** vegetable and hand-tanned especially for us at a small, local tannery. They know I don’t want to see leather from what I call “condominium” cows . . . leather that is almost antiseptic in its perfection . . . citified and devoid of character. I want leather from rugged, Americana, John Wayne kind of cows – cows that have rolled in the dirt and kicked up their heels in the herd. Give me scrapes, nicks, insect bites, and barbed-wire scratches. Show me some spirit.
** With the exception of Italian Bridle Leather, which we use primarily for belts.
To me the beauty is in the naturalness of the leather. People always comment to me about the special “feel” of our leather and how it becomes even more beautiful after it has some wear on it. It’s all about our leather process. When you buy Col. Littleton leather goods, you’re buying, for the most part, American vegetable-tanned steer hide that has received a minimum of alteration. We don’t apply a finish to hide character markings. The way I see it, every marking tells a story and covering them robs the piece of its life and character.
When you buy a leather product, if you can’t easily scratch it and leave a mark, you can be sure the leather has been coated or has an applied finish. You can also be sure that it will not grow old gracefully or develop character and beauty over the years.
When I select a product from our line to use personally, I always search for the one with the most character marks . . . then I twist it and beat it up a little before I use it. I always know I will like it even better after a few years of wear.
My goal is for you to have a unique, one-of-a-kind product.
Any natural texturing or leather markings are part of the plan. Leather in its natural state is not static – it breathes and has life and is pliable if you don’t process the life out of it. It changes and evolves over the years and develops a wonderful patina that gives you the rich, lived-in look of antique leather goods.