Glossary of Leather Terminology

Glossary of Leather Terminology

ANILINE DYED (an-a-line)
Lovers of truly natural products are particularly fond of these leathers: their buttery, glove-soft
texture adds an extra dimension of comfort to your sofa or chair. To create this luxurious
softness and their rich gem-like colors, aniline dyed leathers are tumbled for up to 12 hours in
drums containing transparent dyes. These dyes enhance the subtle textural and color variations
of each hide. Through the years, aniline dyed leather develops a distinctive patina which adds to
its value as a focal point in your home. Only premium hides with the most pleasing color and
texture are selected for this category. Click here to see Aniline Dyed Leather offered by Classic Leather.

Many hides are marred by naturally occurring range marks. Insect bites, barbed wire scars,
scrapes and other defects make them unsuitable for your home. To remove these imperfections,
Corrected Grain leathers are first sanded or buffed, then lightly embossed to restore a natural-looking
more uniform grain pattern. Finally, a dense protective topcoat is applied. Some natural softness is sacrificed in this process, but the proportionately larger number of hides in this category makes this the
most economical grade of top grain furniture leather.

A dyeing process in which leather is immersed in dye and tumbled in a rotating drum, allowing
maximum dye penetration.

The application of color, either by spraying, hand rubbing or immersion.

A process in which design is added to leather by pressure to alter or correct the surface, resulting
in uniform imitation grain.

Any post tanning treatment, such as: dyeing, rolling, pressing, spraying, lacquering, antiquing,
waxing, buffing, embossing, glazing, waterproofing, or flame-proofing.

A term which indicates that leather possesses its original, natural grain; leather which has not
been altered or corrected.  Also called Natural Grain. Click here to see Full Grain Leather offered by Classic Leather.

The distinctive pore and wrinkle pattern of a hide; may be either natural or embossed.

A term used to describe the softness or feel of a leather when you rub your hand on it.

The unaltered top grain surface of leather, also called Full Grain. Click here to see Natural Grain Leather offered by Classic Leather.

PATINA (pa-tee-na)
A lustre that develops on the leather with time and use.

A term describing hides with virtually no scars, range marks or blemishes, usually less than 5% of all hides and typically the most expensive since there are less available.

Refers to the removal of grain, scars and blemishes from a hide.

SEMI-ANILINE (an-a-lin)
Sometimes call “Aniline Plus”, these leathers are first drum dyed in penetrating aniline dyes.
Then a thin matching topcoat is applied to even out the color of the hide surface. The topcoat
also serves to protect against fading and stains. Semi-Aniline leathers are available in hundreds
of colors. They retain most of the softness or their aniline dyed cousins because the natural top
grain is left intact. A much larger proportion of the world hide supply is suitable for this class of
leather and as a result they are more moderately priced. Click here to see Semi-Aniline Leather offered by Classic Leather.

Underlying layers of leather sking, “split” away from the top-grain layer, usually used for suedes, and for less costly furniture.

Treating raw hides to reduce their perishability.

The top surface of the hide, the outer layer of the skin, which is the strongest, most durable, best looking with the best feel to it.

* extra *
In addition to the above glossary of leather teriminology, click here for additional leather information or here for Characteristics of Quality Leather.

Characteristics of Quality Leather


Real leather is a natural product. It breathes, is warm and has individual characteristics which make each hide unique. Leather will always bear the marks of its natural origin and these characteristics can show as healed scars, neck growth marks and areas of differing fiber density and hair pore structure.

These hallmarks in no way detract from the wearing qualities of the leather. They are signs
that discerning owners cherish when buying leather. With the passing of time and use, it develops a
patina which enhances its beauty.


No two hides are alike and due to the varying grain structure mentioned below the dyes and
finishes penetrate to differing degrees in different parts of the hide to give an attractive variation.
While every attempt is made to achieve uniformity this is not always possible.

It must be remembered that no two hides are alike and it is impossible, due to various textures
and the requirements for at least eight hides to make a suite, to guarantee a perfect match.
Patterns, therefore, should be regarded as no more than a guide to the color.

Due to the unpredictable nature of each hide the natural variation that exists within that hide,
leather cutting is a skilled job. Waste must be kept to a minimum while selected use of certain
areas of each hide for different purposes must be considered.

In general it is normal practice to put clusters of scars or areas of rough grain on the outside
of the backs and the outside of the arms. Belly areas, due to their greater stretchiness should be avoided on seating areas. Tighter grained areas around the butt and backbone are favored for those areas receiving the greatest amount of wear. Ideally, leather cutting, to achieve an economical price as just described is not always possible and the tanner must try to minimize the variations whenever possible in his processing. At the same time the manufacturer through the retailer or dealer must try to emphasize the significance of these hallmarks and their positive contribution to the appearance
and performance of leather.

Leather now, due to modern tanning processes, has a much softer glove-like feel and maintains
its suppleness during the life of the furniture. Likewise cushions and arms are much softer and
luxurious, quite different from the older, firmer materials. The combination of these two factors
means that during the first few weeks of use, wrinkles and creases will form naturally in the
leather. These are quite normal and should cause no concern. They are designed into the
furniture and give it a soft inviting look which is an inherent quality of the piece of leather

These form usually as a result of barbed wire damage, disease, infestation or by the horns of
other cattle. In their healed form the new skin is as strong as the remainder of the hide.

Leather Marks - Scars
Leather Marks – Scars

Stretch marks appear in cowhide for the same reasons they do in humans. The process of calving
requires the stretching of the skin to accommodate the new calf. Nothing could be more natural.

These are an indication of the age of the animal and in that respect are similar to the graining on
a piece of timber. They range from often quite pronounced marks in the neck area to subtle
bands across the hide perpendicular to the backbone which are often seen on natural full grain
leathers. Heavy growth marks are often placed on the outside of the backs of seating furniture.

The fiber texture varies greatly from being loose in the belly and flank areas to being relatively
tight across the backbone. The looser areas consequently have more stretch. This variation in
hair pore structure is particularly noticeable in un-textured leathers. Other variations in grain
pattern occur during the life of the animal. Dung marks for example, which are a feature of
cattle kept indoors during the winter months, give rise to areas of rough or burnished grain which
can produce a matt effect even with bright finishes.

So that the steer will have the flexibility needed to move its head while grazing, the skin located
on its neck is full and loose. As the neck stretches and contracts, wrinkles naturally occur in the
hide. (Not unlike many of us.)

Leather Marks - Fat Wrinkles
Leather Marks – Fat Wrinkles

These natural furrows appear along the backbone of all hides. Again, due to the animal’s
physiology, they are your proof of a natural full grain hide.

Graining, like human fingerprints, is unique to each individual hide, and is the hallmark of
quality full-grain leather hides.

Although seldom found on finished furniture, the branding marks are a part of virtually every

Leather Marks - Brands
Leather Marks – Brands
* extra *

In addition to the above glossary of leather teriminology, click here for additional leather information 
or here for Characteristics of Quality Leather.

Need New Furniture – Now What?

I need new furniture! Now what?

When shopping for new furniture most people know this much. “I need a new sofa.” However, because there are so many things that go into finding that new piece of furniture, and the initial search can be overwhelming, I have discovered that I can help my customers by giving them the following ideas as ways to refine their search.

Classic Leather Morgan Sofa 11508
Classic Leather Morgan Sofa

Do you know what you actually want? Knowing what you don’t want may be the easiest way to discover what you are really looking for. The best designer advice I ever received came from Trisha Kolker, “More people know what they don’t like than what they do.” Look in magazines and recognize what you don’t like. Eventually you will begin to know exactly the look you are endeavoring to create for your home.

A note of caution; if you see a beautiful sofa in a fabulous garden room setting with lots of outdoor light streaming in and you say, “That’s it!” consider how it will look in your home. Do you have the same sunlight? Will you have that much room? If you live in a small apartment in the city with one window… believe me, it really won’t look the same!

Take the time to determine your budget…BEFORE you shop. Once in the store the sales associate will encourage you to look at and sit on their very best item. Once you have looked at and sat on a $7,000 sofa, you may be less thrilled with the furniture that is in your price range.

How much space do you have? Most people know what their space is, but people are sorry to discover that what they ordered was far too big for the space it was purchased to fill!

What is the sofa supposed to accomplish? I know that may seem a silly question, but my requirements were always, “Can I stretch out completely?” Sunday afternoon golf/football/bowling…aka nap time, have always been important in our home! Do you want a sofa in a decorator/designer/museum living room or are you looking for family room comfort?

What kind of fabric are you considering? If you have children, pets, or wine drinking friends, you may really want to consider leather over fabric. Here are a few things to consider from– October 16, 2013 Home and Living

• Fabric can often be permanently stained by food and drink that is spilt on your sofa. If you have a young family, then this might not be the right choice for you.
• Some parts of your sofa may become worn over time and start to rip or tear. Fabric can fray, and wear thin in some areas, and it also picks up any strong odors such as cigarettes or pets.
• Some patterns quickly become very dated and you may no longer wish to keep your sofa. If you wait long enough, the style may come back into fashion! Ideally you want your investment to last as long as possible.
I appreciate Jill Vance’s comments in her article “The Benefits of Leather Sofas” posted on, “To be fair to material, it does have one advantage, it can have a pattern – but this is easily overcome by throwing a few colored cushions, or a throw, onto the sofa. This too, (the pattern, not cushions), has a down side, as a pattern that seemed modern when bought, soon becomes dated and boring, perhaps even faded in places, and this necessities re-upholstering to create a pleasing look.”

Finally, Angelique de la Morreaux in her post on, addresses environmental concerns that most of us would like to consider. “As concern for the environment grows, the hunt for a green and eco-friendly fabric to use in the home continues. Leather fulfills both requirements. Leather comes from a renewable source — the hides of cows — and is a natural fabric. Although there may be treatments applied to the leather, the treatment process provides color and imparts durability to the fabric; however, it is not used to make the fabric.”

As a retailer of high quality American made leather furniture, I am obviously biased that leather furniture is the best for my customers, but having lived with fabric and endured what the other writers have noted – fraying, bad odors, out of style designs, and overall durability – I really do believe that leather is the best option when shopping for new furniture.

New Website Design

You are now using our recently updated website. You can now view it easily on your smart phone, tablet or desktop. It is what they call a responsive website. A responsive website will resize the display to fit within any viewing device you have such as a smart phone, tablet or desktop.

Smart Phone View
Smart Phone View

Also, it is 100% secure. That means that every page is secured. This provides the ultimate in security for your personal information such as your email address or any other information you enter on the site. This can be verified by seeing, in the upper left corner of the website address, a green image of a closed padlock and the website address starting with the green colored letters “https”, both identify a secured web page.

In addition, the site is extremely fast so you do not wait to see what you are looking for. Some people would call it a minimalist design because we omitted all the extra “stuff” that only gets in the way of what you are really looking for. Navigation flows easily and gets you where you want to go as quickly as possible.

We strive to provide as much information that is possible regarding leather furniture, options, how it is made, things to consider when buying, and leather care. The purpose is to answer your questions and be as transparent as possible in our quest to provide you with the best quality American made leather furniture available.

As always, our high end American made leather furniture makers ask us not to show our discounted sale prices, therefore please contact us so we may assist you with your furniture needs.


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Leather Furniture USA