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Leather identification in pictures

The purpose of this leather identification in pictures article is primarily to help leather technicians to identify the leather they are working on. I am not going to go into long descriptions about the type of leather shown as any tech out there working will know all about them.

There are many articles and resources for that already. The point here is to give a leather technician without a sample book a chance to compare what he or she sees down the microscope. And if he or she is out in the field with just a smart phone handy, this may help.

You might want to book mark or link to it so it can be found in a hurry!

The microscope shots are at 40X magnification which is the standard portable microscope that most leather technicians seem to use. Distance from the leather is around six inches.

I hope this is of some use to someone!

Leather identification in pictures

Aniline leather identification

Defined as a hide that has been dyed using Aniline dye. The feel is soft. But it has no protector, is easily damaged and marks easily.

Leather identification in pictures

Leather identification in pictures -Aniline by microscope

Leather identification in pictures

Aniline leather by eye

Suffers badly with UV fading. But it absorbs everything, so making invisible leather repairs very difficult if not impossible.

Micro pigment leather identification

Leather identification in pictures

Micro pigment leather by microscope

Leather identification in pictures

Micro pigment by eye

Also sometimes known as semi aniline. This is leather with a very fine (micro) layer of pigment. But this leaves the leather still able to absorb fluids! May look like Aniline under the microscope due to the very thin layer of pigment  allowing the follicle holes to show through.

Nubuck leather identification

This is a hide that has been sanded and buffed to leave a velvety feel. It is very susceptible to fluids due to the fact that it has no protection at all. Making oils and the like almost impossible to remove completely.

Leather identification in pictures

Nubuck by microscope

Leather identification in pictures

By eye Nubuck

Nappa leather identification

Leather identification in pictures

Leather Nappa by microscope

Leather identification in pictures

Nappa by eye

Basically a dyed and tanned good quality leather finished usually with micro pigment. Damages easily. Repairs are possible but with limited success in terms of invisible mending.

Pull up leather identification

Leather identification in pictures

Example of Pull up leather by microscope

Leather identification in pictures

Pull up leather by eye

Original pull up was achieved by saturating Aniline and Nubuck leathers with oil. More recently, this is being replaced by polyurethane and other chemicals. Because the original pull ups are less hard wearing than the modern equivalent.

How to identify Suede leather

Leather identification in pictures

Identifying Suede by microscope

Leather identification in pictures

Suede by eye

This is a finish, not a type of leather. The flesh surface of the leather is touched up by an emery wheel. And this brings up the fibres and gives a ‘nappy’ texture.

Patent leather identification

Leather identification in pictures

Identify Patent leather by microscope

Leather identification in pictures

Patent leather by eye

Leather that has been treated to form a glossy coat. Originally with a linseed oil preparation, it is now more likely to be some form of resin.

Single colour leather pigment identification

Leather identification in pictures

Single pigment leather colour by microscope

Leather identification in pictures

Single pigment colour by eye

This is leather that has a coat of pigment of a single colour and that has been finished with a clear coat of lacquer.

Two tone leather identification

Leather identification in pictures

Two tone leather by microscope

Leather identification in pictures

Two tone leather by eye

Leather that has multiple colours of pigment applied. For example a simple two tone leather re colour may be a Chesterfield.

Antique effect finish leather identification

Leather identification in pictures

Antique effect leather finish by microscope

Leather identification in pictures

Antique effect leather finish by eye

Along the same lines as two tone leather. Personally, I can’t see why they are referred to with different terms. But there it is.

How to tell Vinyl from leather

Leather identification in pictures

Vinyl by microscope top view

Leather identification in pictures

Vinyl by microscope top view black

Leather identification in pictures

Vinyl underneath by eye

Leather identification in pictures

Vinyl by eye

So not a leather, but some can look very like leather! Essentially a Polyester scrim with a PVC coating. Very common, and can be treated almost like leather, in terms of cleaning if the correct products are used.

Bi cast leather identification

Leather identification in pictures

Bi cast leather by eye

Leather identification in pictures

Bi cast leather by microscope- side view

This is essentially a piece of split leather that has been glued to a piece of plastic. It can be treated as leather in terms of cleaning and protecting. However, as soon as it starts to degrade, it has pretty much had it. Repairs are futile. As soon as it has started degrading, it will just carry on in another location.

Microfibre

Microfiber is spelled differently depending upon where you come from. Microfibre in the UK.

It is essentially very thin fibre made out of polyesters & polyamides mainly.

Usually finer than one denier. I am putting this here, just because leather cleaning/repair technicians will at some point come across a client that will swear blind it is leather.

This is what it looks like under the scope, and from a distance. Both are the same piece.

How to identify Microfibre or Microfiber

Microfibre by microscope

Microfibre by microscope

Microfibre by eye

Microfibre by eye

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