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Random Artifact Time: Fleshing Knife

Tanneries were an important part of North-Central Pennsylvania’s industry in the late 19th into the mid-20th century. Pennsylvania’s Tanneries were directly tied to the lumber industry because of the use of tannin-rich Hemlock tree bark in the tanning process.

This fleshing knife was used by Tannery workers to remove the hair and remaining tissue from hides after they have been soaked in a lime solution. These workers were known as “Beam Hands” because they placed the wet hide on a fleshing beam in order to scrap the hide with the fleshing knife.  (See the last image in the post)

This knife is marked “P. Emerick Cin. O” and was reportedly used at the Damascus Tannery in Coudersport, PA.

Close up showing the maker’s mark.
P. 122 of “Practical Treatise on the Leather Industry” by A. M Villon (image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library)