There isn’t, so far as we have been able to ascertain, a word that exactly and exactingly describes old, cared-for and well-worn leather. Some will use ‘aged’ or ‘antiqued’, but these transitives surely imply a process, an effect pursued rather than a quality that should instead naturally ensue. Similarly, ‘distressed’ has intimations of ‘damaged’, and of that untranslatable Russian word poshlost: there’s a suspicion that the effect is the result of a shortcut, a deliberate and somewhat dishonest aesthetic rather than an innate, unique characteristic.
Perhaps, then, we might borrow a word from the world of Leica. For when these superbly precise, all-but-indestructible rangefinders have been hanging round a neck and taken round the world for half a lifetime, they are said to become ‘brassed’. They exhibit ‘brassing’. Every little knock they take - and, indeed, every mighty wallop - wears away at the paintwork a little, eventually revealing the brass underneath.
But such an effect is hard-won. It is, crucially, wholly incidental and no signifier of ill use. If anything, the implication is that these incomparable cameras have been so well loved that they’ve rarely been put to one side. Similarly, we might say that the uneven wear and tear that imparts such character to an old gun slip, game bag or cartridge belt comes not all at once but, like the wrinkles round our eyes, almost in retrospect.
This brassing of leather, to coin a phrase, must start sometime. And just as the best time to plant a tree was ten years ago and the second best time to plant one is today, so we would encourage our readers to look to our shooting accessories – and perhaps to those young guns just starting out if they’re feeling generous – and consider some of Oliver Browns already-marvellous but eventually-even-more-marvellous shooting accessories.
Our Malton bridle-leather cartridge belt, for example, is a thing of beauty made in England by Croots, and is sure to last at least a lifetime:
Similarly, our best-leather cartridge bag, crafted from deep brown, flawlessly finished leather has been reinforced so that its fine looks can only improve with age:
Of course, we also stock a number of gunslips that will mature as well as any fine wine, soaking up the punishment and shrugging of the elements that might otherwise do lasting (and expensive) damage to one’s guns:
Brand new or exquisitely brassed, Oliver Brown’s accessories will stand you in fine stead now and for many, many years to come.