A visit to Pergamena
During my time in New York I began hearing good things about Pergamana, a tannery which has been in the same family - the Meyers - for hundreds of years. They were kind enough to invite us to visit them so we travelled up the Hudson river to their timber-framed factory just outside the town of Montgomery, NY.
They can trace their involvement in the leather trade back to Germany in the year 1550. It's very much a family business; fathers, sons and brothers working alongside one another. Over recent years the increasing industrialisation of the tanning industry, as well as overseas competition has forced this small-scale producer to create into new products and to explore fresh markets to stay viable. Interestingly, rather than follow the rest of the herd in a race to the bottom - offering ever cheaper product of lower and lower quality - they decided to do exactly the opposite. After many years of trial and error they seem to have perfected a method of producing parchment - the untanned hides of calf and goat - of incredible refinement. These individual hides are sold to bookbinders, medievalists, interior architects and calligraphers. Fantastic to see dynamism in such an long-established company. MT