View Full Version : Anyone know the range of thicknesses for tanned human leather

Mark HJ
07-21-2017, 08:07 PM
Apologies for any ick factor, but I am trying to work out how thick a piece of writing vellum would be if made from human skin. There are loads of hits in Google for human leather, including places to buy it :scared:, but no-one seems to mention the thickness. Specifically, I'm trying to get a ball-park size for a book written entirely on human leather vellum. There's no entry in Yellow Pages for local serial killers, so I'm kind of on my own here.

07-22-2017, 02:19 AM
I suspect that human vellum would be approx. the same thickness as animal vellum. Looking at one of the 'human leather' sites, the leather they show looks like ordinary tanned leather, which makes sense if they're upholstering furniture with it. (Although the picture may be of another product entirely.) Our skins seem more scratchable than cow or calf hide, so, presumably would more delicate than animal leather. It couldn't be much thinner, or it wouldn't have enough strength. 'It looked like any other vellum text I'd seen' would probably be close enough for fiction purposes.
As you probably know, 'Anthropodermic bookbinding' is the term for making book covers of human skin, which seems more common that making the actual pages out of human skin (which would require a lot of skin.)

You might try contacting https://www.pergamena.net/faqs with your questions. I've purchased parchment from them in the past, and they seem approachable. They don't sell human leather, but they may have professional opinions on what the product would be like.

07-22-2017, 09:44 AM
Pigs are generally considered to be most analogous to humans for questions like these. They're the same size (in terms of mass) and also aren't covered in fur. Their internal organs are about the same size as ours and they have a layer of fat under their skin like ours (this is common in animals that don't have fur). So I wouldn't be at all surprised if human leather is a lot like pig leather. I'd find it plausible in a book if the character in question were to make the observation that it was a lot like pig leather. Maybe slightly more delicate but there are times when I think humans just assume ourselves to be more delicate because we don't like to think of ourselves as just another animal in the animal kingdom. On the other hand, Homo sapiens sapiens is very gracile compared to the other great apes and earlier species of human, so maybe we really do have more delicate skin.

Mark HJ
07-26-2017, 04:11 PM
Thanks - useful info and guidance! It's a bit of a throw-away moment, but with my big, bad demon trying to spook my MC, I wanted the size of the 'book' recording its original ten thousand year old demonic deal to sound plausible.

07-28-2017, 04:23 AM
Apologies for any ick factor, but I am trying to work out how thick a piece of writing vellum would be if made from human skin.

The same thickness as the vellum you're familiar with in a wedding invitation. As far as ick factor, it's been done before. Most notably in the Nazi death camps.