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Author Topic:   Shagreen

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 06-24-2009 02:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This posting was prompted by an earlier thread about an etui. If I have this right, an etui is used to carry a lady's implements such as sewing items and was commonly covered with shagreen.

From The Collector's Dictionary of the Silver and Gold of Great Britain and North America by Michael Clayton, Forwarded by A G Grimwade, here is an article about shagreen. Shagreen is a species of untanned leather, at first made from the backs and the flanks of the wild asses of Persia and Turkey, whence it derives its name (Shagri). It wore well and was waterproof; initially it was soaked in lime water and later dyed, usually green, red, black and rarely, blue. White shagreen was obtained by bleaching with dough. The increasing demand for shagreen led to the use of horses, mules and camels. These lacked the characteristic granular texture of asses' skin, however this deficiency was supplied artificially. Even today it is easily cleaned if dull and soon returns to its original brilliance.

Shagreen was used to cover a vast number of different containers: boxes for tea caddies, knife boxes, canteens, small pocket or presentation case, spectacle cases, magnifying glasses, knife handles, parasol handles , fan cases, miniature cases, and during the early 19th century, jewellery, thimbles and such-like trinkets were also presented in shagreen-covered boxes, often of same contour. By 1760, nurse-shark skin (known as 'nurses skin') became the fashionable source, of what was soon to become the newest variety of shagreen, but a duty of 3d per pound encouraged the use of less expensive dogfish skin. These fish skins are rarely found in any colour other than green. Shagreen...was eventually ousted by a new and improved coloured morocco leather.

Bibliography: Sylvian Garves, 'The Curious History of Shagreen' Country Life Annual, 1959. G B Hughes, "The Fashion for Shagreen". Country Life, November 28th, 1968.

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June Martin
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Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 06-26-2009 09:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shagreen always brings to mind the British Arts and Crafts Designer and Craftsman John Paul Cooper. There are some beautiful examples of his shagreen pieces in a biography of him by N. Natasha Kuzmanovic.

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