Tannin,

a history close

to your own

The history of tannin has very ancient origins. Before the discovery of the tanning process, Men already knew about his existence.

Their hunter-gatherer activity could guarantee a diet containing varieties of berries, fruits and roots naturally rich in tannin, a powerful antioxidant, which contributed significantly to the equilibrium of the gut flora.

For this reason, nowadays, reintroducing tannins back in our diet, for example through the intake of pomegranate extracts or natural tannins in wine and tea, can be the source of important supplements for human health.

Although no one can be sure of it, it is very likely that our meeting with tannin was empirical or completely coincidental.

An intuition that led to the birth of a process indispensable to the evolution of human civilization: vegetable tanning.

Leather was used as harness for horses and working animals, sandals, belts, saddle bags, quivers, accessories for weapons including shields and armors, book covers. It was also a material to be found in industrial machines and even in XX century tanks.

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The first encounter with our ancestors probably happened on the shore of a pond or in a cave. Men had started to hunt big animals with the help of spears and to use the skin of these killed preys to protect themselves against the cold.

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The Sumerians were among the first populations to systematically tan skins, for which they used various methods (aldehydes, essential oils) and Galls Tannin.

The techniques of vegetable tanning were later perfected by the Babylonians, the Egyptians and the Persians, who used plant extracts both for tanning and for the dyeing of skins.

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The Medieval and Renaissance tanneries continued the tradition of the tanning bath, meaning that the hides were immersed in a solution of tannin and water for weeks

At the Medici court, for example, it was required by law for the hides to be left in contact with tannin for at least 8 weeks, under penalty of 2 écus per hide.

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As soon as they landed in the Americas, the Europeans discovered the existence of new plant species, some of which will prove to be particularly suitable for tannin extraction.

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The Eighteenth century sees the birth of a new method of study of Nature, based on a systematic approach. These are the years of the encyclopedias, of a new relationship between Man and Nature.

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The vegetable tanning bath is an artisan process that takes from 4 to 6 weeks. A length of time that did not meet the new production needs.

Tanneries started to feel the need for an innovation able to guarantee a quality product in a shorter time.

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Tannin had a prominent role also during the two world wars, since various leather articles and leather soles were present in the equipment of all the armies.

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After World War Two, a gradual industrialization of the tanning industry occurred, due to the request of reducing production times. The drum, invented in the former decades, played a key role in this process. However, it was not considered enough.

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Vegetable Tanning

Today, tannin is used successfully in a variety of applications. But it continues to be the undisputed protagonist of the vegetable tanning process, an ancient artisan tradition that still today is based on the same methods used during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. A process able to provide high quality leather, that can last over time and has a surprising quality: antibacterial capacity.

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