Traditionally, the term 'antique' applies to anything that is at least 100 years old.  

But, in the leather world, antique can mean anything that ‘looks’ old, in particular, Chesterfield furniture, old desktops, accessories and old chairs. Although these items are made to appear aged it doesn’t mean that they are. The antique look is created by colouring and applying various antique finishing products. Other popular descriptions applied to old leather are 'distressed’ or 'patina’.

                                    Wiping Leather   Wiping Leather Antique effect

What is patina on leather and how does it develop?

Patina is the sheen that develops on leather as it ages – it does not have to be an antique. What happens is that the leather absorbs just about everything it comes into contact with, from natural body oils and moisture to dirt and sunlight. This develops into shiny and dark areas over the years.  

How and how much you handle your leather items will also affect the nature and degree of patina that the leather develops. If you treat the product with the standard leather care, a patina is likely to form gradually. Scratches and scrapes that gather on the surface are also an integral part of the patina. 

However, if you are meticulous and wipe your leather belongings clean after every use, apply a conditioner once in a while and store the items carefully, the patina will take much longer to set in.                                      

Which leathers show the best patina?

As a rule of thumb the less the leather is processed, the better and more pronounced the patina will be. Conversely, highly finished or spray-painted leather will not gather as much patina. So, a vegetable tanned leather item with an unfinished surface will develop a nice patina, pull-up leather also develops beautiful patina, while patent leather will hardly ever develop any patina. 

The patina develops on almost all types of leather – cow leather, ostrich leather, alligator leather, etc. Stingray leather, however, will naturally resist a patina since it is covered in hard enamelled pearls that will not wear down easily.

                                     Chesterfield chair   Classic Mercedes patina

What isn't Patina ?

There is no clear rule in this case and beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Can fat and grease stains on armrests or headrests be called patina? Not in our opinion. Patina must add to the beauty and character of the leather. Below we have laid out a small collection of photos that explain patina on leather

1) Patina vs new leather


2) Patina on Mercedes leather and classic car leather

                                      Mercedes car seat patina   Classic Mercedes leather door panel

3) Antique leather 

                                      Antique leather chair   Antique Leather armchair

4) Fat stains

                                      Fat stains in leather   Old furniture grease marks