Horsehide or cowhide?
In Milt Sparks holsters how do you tell the difference between horsehide and cowhide, is there a mark somwhere?
Horsehide is slicker and smoother than cowhide, both inside and out.
"Horsehide" is actually muscle tissue, and much smoother and more fine-grained than cowhide, which actually is skin and has visible follicle and sweat-gland markings.
It's difficult for an amateur to tell them apart until shown samples of each.
Are you saying the Horse skin is thrown out and muscles below it are made to look like skin?
Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1
A bit more info appears to be warranted Steve.
For specifics, you might ask one of the Galco guys, here on this forum, or look up a leather tanner using Google. Try the Horween company, from whom I used to get horsehide (through a distributor): I think they still tan the stuff, but no longer in thicknesses suitable for soling.
I have worked with horsehide only a little, so I am merely repeating what my leather wholesaler told me. I used to use it for sandal and shoe soles, because it's so tight-grained that it resists moisture and wear better than cowhide, while remaining much more flexible.
I do not mean that "the Horse skin is thrown out and muscles below it are made to look like skin." I do not know what happens to the skin, per se.
Further, the tissue from which horsehide is made is definitely not "made to look like skin." It looks nothing like skin. It is almost slick-smooth and featureless, with no tactile texture at all.
More than that, deponent sayeth not.
You might want to check out this link. It sounds like the fellow knows all about Horsehide but I cant vouch for him.
I believe the following describes the material you referred to Steve.
Amazing what one can find with these toys.
Genuine shell cordovan is rare. Most leathers come from cows, but cordovan comes from horses (which are not, by the way, raised for this purpose). The “shell”, and let me put this as delicately as possible, is the subcutaneous layer that covers the equine posterior. Each horse provides two shells, which is just enough for a pair of shoes. A single shell isn’t long enough to form a seamless belt, so genuine shell cordovan belts will always be pieced. The most non-porous leather known, shell cordovan is distinguished by its lustrous waxy finish, superior durability, and suppleness that readily conforms to the shape of the wearer’s foot.
Cordovan is a corruption of Cordoba, the city in southern Spain where the technique of tanning this leather originated. Even today high volume production and fancy technology are powerless in its manufacture. Old school handwork is what gets the job done. The shells are put through a natural, vegetable tanning process, then hand-stained, glazed, and finished over a six-month period that demands the measured pace of craftsmanship and patience.
It’s those things that account for the expensiveness of true shell cordovan leather. Added to which there’s only one tannery which still produces cordovan leather, Horween Leathers in Chicago. Coincidentally, Horween’s other claim to fame is providing the leather for NFL footballs and professional baseball gloves. Genuine shell cordovan is a leather with character. It’s known for taking on a rich patina that improves with wear and polishing. And tough as, well, a horse’s butt.
When I was buying horsehide, 30+ years ago, the pieces were much larger than merely two ovals, each large enough to make a pair of shoes. Also, the pieces were much thicker than any kind of shoe-upper leather—about nine-ounce, and even thicker.
I never specified "shell cordovan." My supplier responded to "horsehide," and already knew what I wanted.
Long, long ago, shoemakers were known as "cordwainers," from cordovan, from Cordoba.
"Cordovan" also refers to the original color of horsehide: a deep reddish hue, I guess something like that of a football, from having been tanned with (I believe) hemlock bark. Now it's just a dye color.
Unlike the English guy you linked to, I wasn't doing repoussé work with horsehide, back then. I never made a holster from the stuff, so I never had to bone-mold any.
His quality-control problem with it is foreign (pun intended) to me. The stuff I got was of even thickness, except at some of the edges, which is to be expected with leather.
I have 2 Milt Sparks Horsehide Holsters. They are the IWB holsters and I really like them. They are a lot better than Cowhide for repelling Sweat.
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