Leather grain examples

These two pictures show the difference between a top-quality hide and a lower quality leather.
High quality hide
Aniline tanned hide - hair holes clearly visible
Lower quality hide
Example of another hide with no hair holes
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR... The picture on the left is a close-up of a Wesco boot, (you can see part of the Wesco logo embossed in the leather). The hair holes show that it is made from an aniline tanned hide. The picture on the right is a close-up of a soft leather jockstrap. The lack of hair holes suggest that this leather is lower quality - perhaps chrome tanned or embossed with a fake grain. This is not necessarily a bad thing: one of the qualities of aniline tanned leather is that the dye can rub off, especially next to hot and sweaty skin, so even top quality leather manufacturers may use chrome tanned leather to make jockstraps.
There are other indications of a hide's quality:
Oil absorption
Differences in oil absorption
OIL ABSORPTION TEST: Both hides were wiped with a cloth soaked in Neatsfoot oil at the same time. The aniline tanned hide on the right has absorbed much more oil after two minutes than the lower quality hide on the left.

Pictures by Dave Harris
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