We will gather at 11am for our Annual General Meeting. Two Ordinary Members of the committee, Di Friendship-Taylor and Tim Martin have completed their current terms of office and are standing down. Our warmest thanks to them both for their services to the Group. We will need to elect two new Ordinary Members at this year's AGM; if you are interested in joining the committee please get in touch with either Yvette Fletcher or Quita Mould (contact details in the Members' section). Anyone who has been an Ordinary Member in the past will be very welcome to stand again this year, provided a year has passed since they completed their last term. It has been suggested that specific roles might be attached to these positions – for example answering or forwarding queries received via the ALG website, or assisting with preparing conference proceedings for publication. If this interests you, please get in touch! The minutes of last year's AGM can also be found in the Members' section.
The museum visit
Many members will be aware of the threatened closure of the Walsall Leather Museum and will be glad to have heard the recent news of its reprieve as a result of public pressure. In view of this excellent outcome to what has been a most worrying time for the Museum, we are very pleased to take this opportunity to visit their wonderful collections and show our support for such a valuable resource.
The museum tells the story of the local leather trades: tanning, currying, saddlery, harness, gloving and the making of other light leather goods. Walsall became the centre of a global trade in saddlery and harness and continues the tradition with over 40 leather companies still trading today. Our visit will provide a chance to view the exhibits and some material from the reserve collections. Amongst the items on display are two 17th century saddles and a spectacular Mexican charro saddle stitched with silver-covered thread and dating to c. 1870, said to be one of the finest of its kind. We will also see a pair of Mexican chaps with similar decoration that has only recently been donated to the museum and is not currently on display.
We will be shown a selection of the large number of trade catalogues dating from the Victorian period onward that are in their care. The museum also has a good collection of contemporary leather design, from 1990 to the present day and there will be opportunities to buy top quality leather goods from some local manufacturers at heavily discounted prices. I hope that you will be able to join us.
The Archaeological Leather Group is holding a day seminar with focus on Japanese leather and traditional tanning methods employed to produce 'white' leather: oil, brain, smoke and alum.
There will be two speakers from Japan - Yuko Nishimura a social anthropologist looking at the social standing of tanners, and Shoji Nobi a tanner and historian - and they will be discussing the production of white leather at the leather making centre, Himeji.The program is currently being finalised but we are hoping to cover subjects such as, the chemistry behind traditional tanning methods, the use of white leather in Japanese armour, and routes by which brain tanning may have reached North America.
The cost of the day to include a buffet lunch will be £35 for ALG members and £50 for non-members. All welcome. Further details, including how to book, will be made available nearer the time.