Leather has been used throughout history by all civilisations.
Since remote times the advantages of using this resistant and flexible material was understood for the creation of footwear, shields and other utensils. The tanning techniques, passed down from generation to generation, ensure we have knowledge of the legacy of information bequeathed to us from the Roman and Arabic culture which dominated Ubrique, in relation to the process of leather tanning.
In the Middle Ages, these techniques blossomed, expanding in the Renaissance, all of which led to the creation of so-called “stamped leather”.
The clearest precedent for the current leather works is the tannery, where the leather was tanned. Even today its remains are preserved next to the river which crosses Ubrique and which bears its name. This process is long and laborious and its principal elements are water and lime. The leather used back then was that of seals and calfskin, the oldest pieces produced in Ubrique were the “precisos” and saddlebags of farmers.
The “preciso” was a small bag made of leather which the muleteers would hang from their trouser belts for storing tobacco.
The earliest leatherworker we have knowledge of was Mr. Angel Vecina de Malta, who having been born in Italy came to Ubrique in the last quarter of the XVIII century. This man installed himself in street “Ronda” and with the help of his wife and children began to produce large numbers of tobacco pouches, giving a great boost to the leather industry.
Another man who embodied the importance and quality of the goods manufactured in Ubrique was Mr. Emilio Santamaría, from La Mancha, who arrived around the year 1916. He was a pioneer in the commercialisation of leather goods and set up an important factory, preserved today in a handsome building called ABC, popularly known as Santamaría.
The leather works contributed to the economic blossoming of the village, and placed it in a privileged position within the socioeconomic landscape of the mountainous region of Cadiz. Its leather goods are renowned the world over, for their variety as well as their quality and finish.