Original Vintage & Restored Leather Keyrings for Classic Cars & Motorcycles

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Union Jack – brand new British made vitreous enamel badge mounted onto a keyfob in vintage RUSSIA REINDEER LEATHER

£95.00

This listing is for the brand new vitreous enamel Union Jack badge mounted onto a teardrop keyfob in Russia leather as seen in the photos.

A full story of the Russia leather follows after the description of the Union Jack badge .

These are the very last vitreous enamel badges which we will be able to have made in Britain – the manufacturer went out of business during covid and these badges were produced just before he closed his doors.

Sadly vitreous enamel badges will now have to be obtained from overseas and those that we ordered recently were not up to our standard .

When all the badges have been sold mounted onto new keyfobs then this listing will be cancelled.

These lovely ‘old school’ vitreous enamel Union Jack badges were made in Birmingham for us recently .

These badges are based on originals which were made in the 1960s at a time when Great Britain was leading the world in car production and many overseas customers would have been proud to have had this Union Jack badge on the keyring of their car which had been made in England – especially enthusiast’s cars such as Austin Healey, Jaguar & Triumph which sold to a huge export market .

Those original badges were produced by Heath Machin & Co. of Walsall, England in the 1960s .

Heath Machin produced their own ranges of automotive keyrings and also mounted badges for others ( like Melsom Products Ltd of Birmingham ) onto leather keyfobs as they were predominantly a leather works .

The badges are in the most lovely red & cobalt blue jewellery grade vitreous enamel – the red enamel is translucent showing the stippled texture of the ground below – simply stunning .

Bud Marston describes original examples of these Union Jack keyfob badges in his major work ‘Vintage Jaguar Keyrings’ featured at the beginning of our Jaguar section here in this website shop .

We cannot improve on Bud’s description of those original badges which we quote here ( with Bud’s permission of course ! ) …………….

” Many such talismans accompanied their proud owners down the long and winding roads of yesteryear and for that reason deserve honourable mention alongside their more prominent relatives “

By ‘prominent relatives’ Bud was of course making reference to Jaguar keyrings which were his main subject .

When we have used all of the Union Jack badges which we have then this listing will sadly be cancelled .

Russia Reindeer Hide

We produce these keyrings using a specially selected grade of this incredible 225 year old leather.

This is a very finite resource & we now have only just one hide left to work with .

The Russia Leather which we use has actually been identified as Reindeer hide which does not have the substance ( thickness ) for us to make the standard of keyring which we are now very well know for- so we laminate and hand stitch two thicknesses of leather together to produce these remarkable keyrings.

Some of the leather recovered from the wreck was bovine ( cow )  hide which was a much thicker and coarser material and not particularly attractive with a coarse grain  and unsuitable for making keyrings from .

Careful leather selection has to take place for each keyring .

Your keyring will be unique in terms of texture & colour ( no two are ever the same ) and the leather from which it is made has no equal in this modern world.

You are buying a tiny piece of history literally frozen in time dating back from the late 18th Century .

All the best stories start with ” It was a dark & stormy night……….”and this story is no exception !

In late November 1786 the Danish Brigantine ‘Metta Catherina’ set sail from the Russian Port of St.Petersburg bound for Genoa in Italy with a cargo of leather hides & hemp.

On 10th December 1786 she had reached a position off Plymouth on the South coast of England and sought shelter in Plymouth Sound from a  storm of increasing strength – but all to no avail as the storm continued to increase and the ship was then wrecked & lost.

Two centuries later ‘Metta Catherina’  was discovered by divers and some of the cargo was found to be in a remarkably good state of preservation after over 200 years on the sea bed.

Much of the leather had been very tightly bound which had resisted the ingress of water.

The leather had been tanned in the traditional Russian way using a tanning mixture loosely based on birch tar oil & willow bark .

The leatherworker who was involved in conserving the hides developed an oil emulsion which the hides were treated with .

At the time of supplying us with our own hides he provided us with some of this which we use to this day and it closely replicates the smoky birch oil aroma which our own hides had when we first received them.

In the late 18th Century the world was in awe of Russian leather which was of a quality never equalled before or since.

The quality of leather used to make cavalry boots & saddles could be decisive in winning a battle which could win or lose a kingdom –

Rather like the old story of the horseshoe nail where the kingdom was lost for the want of a horse shoe nail …….

For the want of the nail the horse was lost……….

For the want of the horse the rider was lost…..

For the want of the rider his message was lost…………

For the want of the message the battle was lost…….

For the want of the battle the kingdom was lost…………….and all for the want of a horseshoe nail .

England sent spies to Russia to determine how the leather was produced – the spies were never heard of again .

The secret of how the Russia leather was produced was never discovered and was finally lost forever during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution in 1917.