Homestead Economics: Leather Tanning

Tanner Currier 1790 Detail
Detail of the lithograph "Tanner and Currier." Credit: Library Company of Philadelphia

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6 Responses

  1. Robert Hagenbuch says:

    Great article, Andrew! Very interesting.
    I knew there was a lot of hard work involved, but did not know how much time was involved. I believe Jacob died in 1842, not 1742 as stated.

  2. Robert A. Lamlein says:

    Thank you for your amazing summation of the life and times of a colonial tanner. My relatives, the Scholl and Winey families of Richfield, PA, were also in the tanning business. I have often wondered what they did all winter when their vats were frozen…other processing steps no doubt. To your list of leather products, you might add, as I have recently discovered, fire buckets. Not only were they made for the early fire departments, but they were also required in each home in Phila. to extinguish a kitchen or fireplace fire before it got out of hand. Of course, B. Franklin was involved in that idea!

    • Andrew Hagenbuch says:

      Thanks and that is a great point about winter! Perhaps the chemical content in the water kept the vats from freezing easily? Not sure. I have seen pictures of indoor vats, but that seems unlikely in a small, rural operation. Thanks for the tip on fire buckets too!

  3. Bruce Kistler says:

    Great article. This is off the topic but I noticed in the 1854 map a place marker for “C. Allemaengel” suggesting to me that it is a surname. Any truth to that?

    • Andrew Hagenbuch says:

      Hi Bruce. Good question! I have looked at this over the years and come to the conclusion that it is a mistake. I have never seen Allemaengel as a surname. Rather, just a name for the area. The location marked at “C. Allemaengel” is where the Zahner family is known to have lived.

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