Leather Treatment Recipe

The following appeared in "The Camera Collector" column of the now defunct MODERN PHOTOGRAPHY magazine, September 1973, pp. 50, 53. The author is Jason Schneider. This appears toward the end of the column.

I have not tried this myself.

. . . We present possibly the best conction ever for preserving or renovating your leatherclad classics (which was originally published in the British Museum Quarterly, No. 2, 1927, pp. 77-78) in response to many inquiries. While I use nothing abstruce than Lexol leather dressing and the appropriate shade of Kisi or (Englsh) Propert's shoe polish in the light restoration of my own classic cameras, teh folliwng is the real McCoy.

Although it was intended for preserving the covers of leather-bound books, some collectors of photographic apparatus have found it beneficial for treating the outer leather coverings of cameras and their cases. For best polish and freedom from stickiness, thorough buffing of the treated leather surface is necessary. For this reason this dressing is not recommended for camera bellows, where the folds make buffing difficult, and where a residue of unbuffed dressing can cause adhesion of the folds.

The ingredients may be obtained from scientific or biological supply houses. The grade of cedar wood oil used for "clearing" biological sections is acceptable, as is the "hexane" petroleum distillate, or a "practical" grade of hexane.

The following is quoted directly from the above-mentioned publications.

Lanolin, anhydrous - 7 oz. (by weight)
Beeswax - 0.5 oz. (by weight)
Cedarwood oil - 1 oz. (by volume)
Hexane - 11 oz. (by volume)

Dissolve the wax in the hexane in a warm place, taking care to keep it away from naked lights, as hexane is volatile and easily inflammable. Add the cedarwood oil, and then lanolin which should be previously softened by warming. The mixture must be thoroughly shaken before using.

The method of applying the mixture is as follows: First the bindings (or camera cases or coverings) are washed in the usual manner (with soap and water), and set out to dry in a w warm room (not too close to the heat source) for two or three days, and then the leather dressing is well rubbed in. The leather will now feel greasy to the touch, but after standing for forty-eight hours it will be found that the lanolin has penetrated and the leather can be easily polished. This operation leaves a shiny "skin" on the surface which shows the grain of the leather to the best advantage. It is not in any way a sticky or resinous surface after polishing, and the general effect of the treatment is to soften the leather and prevent it from drying up.

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