Rope Sheathing

Object Detail

About This Object
Rectangular piece of leather with holes for stitching along all edges. Stitching about 10mm apart along shirt edges, and 40mm apart on long edges. Leather is now rolled. Outside surface is shiny with visible grain. Inside is softer also dark brown/yellow.

This strip of leather has been stitched together to form a leather sheath. This would have been used to protect ropes from excessive wear in a process called ‘Leathering’. Leathered rope would be used in positions where the rope could rub against another rope, tackle or a sail. Ropes were made of natural products like hemp and this made them susceptible to rot in the harsh marine environment. Protected rope was generally used for the standing rigging, supporting the masts and bowsprit. Ropes in the standing rigging did not have to run through pulley blocks. The leather would have been cut into strips of a width equal to that of the circumference of the rope to be leathered. The strips are soaked in water to soften them and make them easier to work, and then they are sewn lengthwise along their edges and to the section of rope needing protection. Finally, a small strapping is pulled tight at either end of the section of leather.
Catalogue Number
Height: 670mm
Width: 220mm
Depth: 2mm (1/16")
Production Date
Pre 1758
Production Period
Eighteenth Century