Shagreen has been prized for centuries for its decorative properties. Vintage decorative objects such as jewelry boxes, eyeglass cases and books are highly collectible today. While originally made from rough untanned hides from horses or donkeys, craftsmen in the 17th century discovered the skin from sharkskin or the skin of a rayfish naturally had the texture previous leathermakers had worked to create. Sharkskin and rayfish skin have round, calcified papillae (scales) that are closely set. Once the tanned skin has been sanded and then died with a green dye. The calcified papillae do not absorb the dye at the same rate as the rest of the skin. The result is a mottled, textured surface whose clusters of scales are centered on the object it is applied to. Today, leather manufacturers have created embossing patterns on cowhide to replicate the look of shark or rayfish skin. Shagreen was made popular in Europe by Jean-Claude Galluchat (d. 1774). He was a master leatherworker in the court of Louis XV of France. Shagreen covered items quickly became the height of fashion amongst French aristocracy. The rage spread throughout Europe by the mid-18th Century. Pearson Furniture Company has a a generous assortment of Shagreen items from mirrors, consoles to tables. This Spring at the High Point International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, a new console and companion side table were introduced. These pieces reflect 1930's and 40's Modernist elements with a Hollywood glamour. They are made with an American Walnut case with chevron cut embossed shagreen drawer fronts. They are adorned with a brass stretcher and drawer pulls.
We invite you to click here to explore more shagreen pieces from the Pearson Occasionals program.