During the the first half of the 1940’s our factory was busy doing what many factories in the U.S. were doing – supplying goods and materials for use by our troops. For us, that quite obviously meant leather. We supplied two main leather types during this time; Mechanical leather and Chromexcel.
Mechanical leather is a specialized, dense, and extremely durable tannage utilized to make hydraulic and pneumatic seals and packings. C.W. Marsh is one of our oldest customers, and we supplied them (and other manufacturers) with leather that was used for many applications, including vehicles. While “leather is better,” this industry has largely moved into the realm of synthetics.
During this time we also made a ton of Chromexcel. Specifically, it was a version called Marine Field Shoe. This version of the leather is a designed to be used suede side out, and the back side of the leather is treated to give it a nice, level knap. By constructing the boots this way the boots could be left unlined while still having a finished, comfortable medium to contact the foot. This was particularly advantageous in North Africa, where the troops could up-end their boots to easily empty them of sand, thus greatly reducing blisters and increasing comfort.
The boots that were worn were typically dressed and polished with “dubbin,” which makes them much darker and helps to make them more water resistant.