Keeping a journal can be a lifetime process, so the type of material and Grades of leather used in your journal should be of utmost importance and particularly the grade of leather is the most important. This is why leather is the preferred material for so many writers. A high-quality leather journal can help to protect your book from the elements and give it a unique, classic look that gives it the identity that you desire. But what different types of leather are used in these journals, and what should you look out for? A good leather manufactures will belong to the USHSLA or United States Hide, Skin & Leather Association.
Most people associate leather with the material that is made from cowhide, and for good reason. This is by far the most common type of leather available. However, leather is simply the material made from the skin of any animal through the tanning process. This means that the varieties are virtually limitless. Some other relatively common and different types of leather include goat, sheep, elk, and deer. There are many other exotic leathers that are more difficult to obtain, such as ostrich and even kangaroo.
The Grades of Leather
No matter what animal your leather comes from, there are different layers of skin that make for different kinds of leather. These vary in appearance, feel, and quality.
Full Grain Leather
This grade of leather is the highest quality leather that money can buy. The grain is the top layer of hide that shows after the skin has been removed. When this layer has not been conditioned or corrected, you have Full Grain Leather. This means that any blemishes from the animal have not been removed, keeping the outlines of things such as scars and insects bites. While some people may prefer a more uniform look, full grain leather provides the most durability of any leather thanks to the tightness of the grain and its ability to withstand the elements. Full Grain Leather also have the benefit of a unique, individual personalized look that will develop a beautiful patina for years to come.
Top Grain Leather
One step below full grain is Top Grain Leather. This is achieved by sanding off the first few millimeters of the grain, removing the blemishes and visual inconsistencies that may have been present without correction. The benefit of this for some people is the more uniform look that it provides. While it still provides a high level of durability and reliability, however, it does not meet the standards of Full Grain Leather. Still, it is an admirable option for any leather journal and should provide a satisfactory experience.
Split leather exists when the entire grain is separated from the hide. This results in a grade of leather made from the corium, which has looser fibers and therefore less strength and durability. Suede is often the result of split leather. Many people are known to prefer this grade of leather because of the softer feel and different look of suede. However, because it is less durable it is more likely to give into the elements and suffer higher levels of wear and time in a shorter amount of time.
Any of these grades of leather can make for a great journal, but it is up to you to decide between the many different types of leather. You will want to spend time picking and also know what you will expect to get out of yours. You may drop a pretty penny for a full grain journal, but it might be worth it for something that could last a lifetime.