Not all cowhide rugs created equal. In fact each one is absolutely unique in the way they look, the colour, shape and size, but also the feel of the leather and the texture and softness of the hair.
People often ask me what the difference is between a good-quality cowhide and a bad one.
There is no one simple answer. Basically cheaper hides tend to be a much lower quality and don't last as well.
Here is what you need to know about cowhide quality.
The whole quality process starts right at the beginning with the selection of the skins at the meat works.
This is a skill that not all tanneries have. Some leather tanneries just tan every hide they buy and hope for the best. Tanning with hair-on-hide is a difficult task.
This rule follows right through the tanning process and the quality of the equipment & chemicals the tanneries use, plus the skill of the leather technician.
The longer they spend processing the skins and the higher the quality of the tanning chemicals they use, the better quality the finished product will be.
You can't rush the tanning process - it takes many weeks and lots of physical labour to tan a cowhide rug properly.
What key quality to look out for?
The cowhides leather should be soft and floppy, easy to fold (not stiff or rigid) and also an even thickness over the whole hide.
The hair should look amazing and be glossy and soft to touch.
All cowhides have natural flaws, they are a natural product.
The big visual difference between a good quality hide and a bad quality hide is often in the way that these natural flaws are treated and repaired.
They should be virtually invisible. We have seen some shocking ugly repairs on cheap hides. And low quality hides with tears and holes.
Poor quality hide repairers do a bad job and the results are often dreadful and ugly. If you can see the repairs they are not good quality repairs.
In a good quality hide any repairs should be almost invisible from the hairy topside.
Watch our video that explains this is more detail and shows some good examples.