Care & feeding of older leather bellows : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Just got an 1920's vintage Deardorff with the original red leather bellows. (or what I think is the original bellows). Little wear but it had 8 pinholes in the corners, that I have already patched up from the inside.

I am looking for information on some of the preferred ways of treating the bellows so it will last. It is a nice red that I would like to take down a touch to a more burgundy color, while at the same time enhancing its lifespan. Inside the bellows it has a 'linen' type of cloth in a faded blue color. Anyone out there know if I can use a black dye such as Kiwi skuff cote to make it black without harming the cloth or any adhesive used to attach it to the leather? While at the same time helping to preserve the leather from the inside?

I have used Mink Oil on newer leather bellows with good luck but don't know if this will help the older ones. Any experienced users information will be appreciated. I want it to look nice, but above all, I want to photograph with it.

-- Dan Smith (, January 05, 2001


-- Sean yates (, January 05, 2001.

Dan, I have a 1938, 5x7 with the same problem. What have you found that works well for patching on the inside that doesn`t stick when the bellows is folded? I`ve used Kiwis` leather treatment on black bellows on older cameras, 20`s Brownies, Autographics and such with good results. As I`ve only used it on one red bellows a while back, I can`t recall what it did to the color. This was not done merely for appearance as I enjoy shooting with some of this old stuff.

-- Steve Clark (, January 06, 2001.

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