1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Shagreen
SHAGREEN, a species of untanned leather with a roughened, granular surface. The word is the English form; cf. Ger. Schagrin, of Fr. chagrin, Ital. zagrin, zigrino; these are usually referred to Turkish and Persian saghri, lit. the back of a horse, and so applied to leather made from this part. The skin of the wild ass was especially used. The method of preparing the skins to secure the rough, granular surface is as follows. The seeds of a plant, usually some species of Chinopodium, are embedded in the skin while soft, the surface is then shaved down and soaked in water, when the edges of the indentations swell up. The leather is then dyed, green being a favourite colour. Shagreen is now commonly made of the skins of sharks and rays; the placoid scales of the shark skin giving the necessary roughened surface. Shagreen is used as an ornamental leather for making pocket-books, small cases and the like, and for the handles of swords, daggers, &c. The figurative use in French of “chagrin,” for anxiety, annoyance, was adopted in English in the 17th century. This application of the word is due to the rasping surface of the leather.