Leather polishing

I’ve remarked before about how I’m finding all sorts of interesting things about occupations and trades in the nineteenth century during my research for my previous novel Radwinter and its sequel (due out tomorrow!) Magick

One of the ancestors the main character finds, is his widowed great-grandma Helena, who in 1901 was a leather polisher. He speculates on what leather items she might have polished, and he does a little research, when he comes across her again in the 1911 census when she is now married to Alfred Dare,  a car driver.

Here is an excerpt, here is what Thomas finds out:

Perhaps Alfred had leather in his car, leather upholstery which needed polishing and that’s how he met Widow Collins? I look up leather polisher and come across a list from the 1960’s and there are all sorts of trades connected with leather, carver, currier, cutter, and dresser, drier and finisher, flesher, grainer and… and polisher. So even in the 1960’s people were still polishing leather, and I imagine it was during the process for preparing it for use as a material in other industries, shoes and boots maybe, furniture and upholstery, and all the other products using it.

I make a quick little list of other leather processing trades: processor, roller, scraper, scrubber, seasoner, shaver, skinner, splitter, sponger, sprayer, staker, stretcher, tacker, tenner, toggler, tooler trimmer, whitener… and the master craftsman I would guess, the leathersmith.


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