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Occupation - (Seal)skin Dresser

Occupation - (Seal)skin Dresser

Posted: 16 Feb 2010 7:50PM GMT
Classification: Query
The occupation of the father of one of my ancestors is described as Skin Dresser (on her Baptism record in 1843) and Sealskin Dresser (on her marriage certificate in 1892). Does anyone know what they mean please?

These links are to Parish records so I don't know if you'll be able to view them.

The marriage certificate:

http://search.ancestry.co.uk/iexec/Default.aspx?htx=View&...

The Baptism record:

http://search.ancestry.co.uk/iexec/Default.aspx?htx=View&...

Re: Occupation - (Seal)skin Dresser

Posted: 22 Feb 2010 2:08PM GMT
Classification: Query
Seal skin and other skin dressers were involved with the preparation and dying of furs and skins to make them suitable for the manufacture of clothing.

Initially all operations were completed by hand but later machines were invented for some tasks. Google for sealskin dressers returns a number of hits that may hold more specific information to your ancestors but this one from Google books gives an outline of most of the processes http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ONoDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA427...

You may even find your ancestor listed in the trade directories covering the area where he lived, try the online Historical Directories at http://www.historicaldirectories.org/hd/index.asp

Re: Occupation - (Seal)skin Dresser

Posted: 23 Feb 2010 10:39AM GMT
Classification: Query
Jeff,

Thanks for the links, very interesting, especially the "Popular Mechanics" magazine.

I guess I wasn't quite expecting a "Seal" skin dresser in South East London, although I don't know why!

I live south of London and we have a road within a mile called "Tannery Close". This formerly housed a leather works (within the last 50 years) and the smell was quite strong apparently.

Thanks again.

Bryan Howell

Re: Occupation - (Seal)skin Dresser

Posted: 23 Feb 2010 12:08PM GMT
Classification: Query
I know what you mean about tanneries, I used to cut through one on the way to school as a kid, always wondered what all those pits were for and what was in them - now I know no wonder we were chased off.

London furriers had the best dressers, I don’t know if you saw this at http://chestofbooks.com/food/household/Woman-Encyclopaedia-1... , another interesting article. Until I read the “Popular Mechanics” magazine article I hadn’t realised seal skins were shipped “wet” in barrels.
In the search I did there was also a newspaper article about a US Court case where 2 brothers, both former London dressers, had invented a machine to remove the course hair from the seal pelts. They were suing someone for Patent copying.
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