For those with a desire for unique accessories, GJ Cleverley has just added some new pieces made from the Russian reindeer hide that was dragged up in 1973 from the Metta Catharina von Flensburg, a Danish brigantine that was sunk in 1786 – despite being anchored in Plymouth Sound.
Cleverley has exclusive rights to all of the hides, from which only the finest are used for shoes and bags. The first pair of shoes the firm made in the leather were for Prince Charles. The signature piece is the Gladstone Bag, with a Racing Green goatskin lining. But that does cost £4,500. The wash bag is a snip by comparison at £425.

Pictures here of the items as well as the leather being dragged out back in the seventies.

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Hi Simon,

Is it true that the Russian reindeer skins smells quite a bit or is that just an online myth?

Thanks for a great blog!


David Reeves

It smells just like the soap “imperial Leather” many years ago I bought a case from George and it smelled quite strong for a few years.


I have a wallet and cheque book cover made out of this hide and the smell was truly wonderful.
Alas, it has faded after almost 10 years and I love to expand my collection.
Can’t quite stretch to 4.5K though.


I have the 1786 leather plack from the ship with the certificate of authenticity with that picture of the man on the front of the certificate. Can any body tell me abit more or how much its worth?


I don’t know a price it would be worth however if you name a price Id be happy to pay you for it?

Lesley Stevens

I have a handbag made from thru 1786 reindeer hide. It is stamped with initials M.E.M. Do you know it’s value ?

Luke Smith

Does anyone know if there are any ladies purses/wallets still about in the Russian hide??

Robert Ross

Interested to see the comments on the 1786 Russia Leather. I am one of the Craftsmen privileged to have been able to purchase and work with this wonderful leather. I have supplied J.G Cleverley with numerous items over the years, including their cufflink cases, shoe cleaning kit cases, wine carriers etc. I’ve also made many other items for private clients, including coffee tables, attache cases, fly fishing wallets and cases and watch straps.
Unfortunately the individual Craftsman can no longer buy the leather, the remainder has been secured by J.G Cleverley for their use.
However I still have a small amount of the leather left, and at the moment I’m making a shotgun cartridge magazine case, and a double wine bottle carrier the same style as I made for Cleverley, both of which will be available, but I am still able to to take on a few private commisions if anyone is interested.
For information and photographs please contact me here. [email protected]

Mike Abbey

I love this leather and have many pieces. Here is a photo of my 2 largest pieces. I’m a bit embarrassed how much I’ve purchased over the years, but I’m a huge fan of the 1786 Russia leather. I have a couple of wallets and many key fobs and other small items. I don’t see pieces very often, so I thought I’d share some of mine in case anyone is interested.

Mike Abbey


Mike Abbey



All very nice!
I have a man’s purse made with this leather.

Mike Abbey

Very nice. Is it the Gents Purse sold by Great English Outdoors by chance?


I have a 1786 brown cheque book cover which I got in 1981 and never used. What’s it worth?

Mike Abbey

Keith, I’d be interested in buying it if you’re selling. I want to buy a piece for my wife.