In this article, I talk about Hermann Oak Leather Company and why I use their natural vegetable tanned leather. Some of this info comes straight from their website, which I’ve also linked below. UPDATE: They are no longer the only vegetable tanned leather I use, but still one of the best out there. I’m always looking for more quality options in other applications, but Hermann Oak still earns a spot on my shelf.
Who/what is Hermann Oak?
They are a tannery based in St. Louis, Missouri who have been in business since 1881. Hermann Oak is family owned and operated, with Shep Hermann who joined the company in 1985 still managing the business today.
Why choose them?
There are many reasons honestly, primarily quality being number one. Secondly, their leathers are either natural or aniline (soluble) dyed which retains the hides natural surface.
Lastly they perform the older style “vegetable tanning” process which utilizes the extract from tree bark to yield a natural hide. This process takes about a month for each hide. Vegetable tanned leather is also the only leather able to be carved, tooled and stamped well. Therefore it has more versatility in it’s use for leathercraft.
Hermann Oak sources their Heavy Native Steer hides from major U.S. beef packing houses, where cattle are processed under strict USDA supervision in the most humane way possible.
Leather and Tanning Industry
Leather hides themselves only account for 5% of the value of any steer, so the leather and tanning industry has no real effect on the number of cattle raised for beef. Without the leather and tanning industry these hides would essentially wind up as waste sent to our landfills.