Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 91.djvu/587

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And These Are Not Leather?

They feel like seal, morocco, and cowhide; but suitcases, pocketbooks, bags and auto- mobile seats, are made of cotton nowadays

DO you suppose that the luxuriant upholstery of a modern automobile and the seats and backs of most library chairs are made of leather? If you do, you must change your notions entirely. Things are not always what they seem. Your silk socks were once part of a tree that grew in a forest ; leather is nowadays as often a form of downy cotton as the tanned hide of a steer.

It may startle you to know that these new forms of leather are varieties of gun-cotton. Fear not; they are not dangerous. The "gun" has been taken out of the cotton. A chemical compound which can blast a subway or blow up a Czar is converted into a necessary and peaceful substitute for cowhide for articles of clothing.

Originally, leath- er substitutes were manufactured sole- ly for the purpose of producing a cheap upholstery material which would look like what it is not. In course of time, various impro vet- men ts in processes and materials were made so that a real substitute for

leather was produced which actually wore better than some kinds of hide. Indeed, these substitutes were in part composed of leather; for they were, in reality, thin sections or sheets cut from the under side of the hide and coated and embossed so that they looked like real top side uphol- stery leather.

These "split" leathers and leather substi-

����Those jaunty little outing caps — who cares if they are not real "leather?"

��That fine-looking "seal" pocketbook which you admire in a shop window is nothing but dyed and embossed sheepskin and is quite inexpensive

��tutes have become of increasing im- portance because of the war. Not only are they cheaper, but they conserve leather. For harness, belt- ing, saddles, boots, etc., leather of good quality is indispensable; and just now there is not enough of it to meet these essen- tial requirements.

Since the leather "split," which is coated and embossed or grained to resemble real hide, is really nothing but a foundation, manufacturers must have asked themselves^ "Why not use a fabric base instead ?" The experiment was made and a base secured.

��Stronqest aid irable part. used upholsterin

���At left: Thin sections or sheets cut from the under side of the hide and coated and em- bossed to look like real top-side upholstery

��At right: Only the heel of this shoe is leather. The top, facings, tip, tongue and heel counter are of substitute ma- terial. Yet it will wear well

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