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Exotic Skin Types

Whether choosing a vintage or new exotic skin item, it is important to understand the different types of skins, the finishes that are available, and their characteristics in order to make educated buying decisions. Below is a visual guide which outlines the physical characteristics, and finishes when applicable, of some of the exotic skins and hides that have been available in our collection.
 
 
Skin Category: Crocodilian Species - Alligator, Crocodile & Caiman
 
The crocodilian species is by far the most ancient of the reptiles and currently encompasses 23 species.  ALL alligator products produced today come from the American Alligator (no longer endangered since the conservation initiatives from 1967 to 1987 when they were removed from the list), found only in the Southeastern United States. The only other alligator species within the Crocodilian species is the Chinese Alligator, which is critically endangered.
 
The most coveted crocodilian skins come from the largest of all living reptiles - Crocodile Porosus (Saltwater Crocodiles or "Salties"), found throughout Southeast Asia and Australia. The commercial value of Crocodile Porosus hide is very high (the most valuable of any crocodile species), due to the size and shape of the belly scales, and the lack of ventral osteoderms which otherwise make tanning difficult - osteoderms are restricted to the back and a small nuchal cluster on the neck. Many of the top brand designers (e.g., Hermes) use this gorgeous and expensive skin.
 
There are a number of dealers that will call any crocodile skin Porosus to purposefully charge higher prices. You can determine genuine porosus crocodile by understanding that Porosus Crocodile scales on the flanks (sides) are more oval in shape than other species, although belly scales are rectangular, even, tight, and relatively small. For the best example of this skin, simply look at an Hermes Crocodile Birkin bag - all are done in Crocodile Porosus. 
 
Alligator and crocodile products are also designed with a variety of skin types and finishes. We have developed this visual guide below from some of the skins within our collection to help you with your buying decisions, so that you can understand the difference within the species, as well as how they are tanned/finished. 
 
One of the most common misperceptions is that alligator/crocodile skin is a "delicate" exotic leather, when, in fact, it is one of the most durable leathers available. 
 
Alligator Belly
Alligator Belly - Bombe Finish
Alligator Belly
Alligator Belly - Bombe Finish
Alligator Belly
Alligator Belly - Bombe Finish
 
Alligator Belly
Crocodile Hornback w/Head Horns
Crocodiles have 4-2 bumps at the head base
Alligator Belly
Alligator Hornback w/Head Horns
Alligators have 2-2-2 bumps at the head base
Alligator Belly
Caiman Hornback w/Head Horns
Caiman have 4-4-2 bumps at the head base
 
Alligator Belly
Crocodile Flank/Neck - Matte Finish
Alligator Belly
Crocodile Tail/Flank Skins 
Alligator Belly
Alligator Umbilical Cord Scar
 
 
 
Skin Category: Snake
 
Snakes - which have been prominent figures in the religions, customs and folklore of people throughout the world for centuries - have a variety of types within the species. Typically the most common snake skins used in handbags and accessories include cobra, karung, and python. For visual reference, we have included below examples of some of the skin types from our collection.
 
Alligator Belly
Anaconda
Alligator Belly
Dyed Cobra - Psychedelic
Alligator Belly
Dyed Cobra - Orange
 
Alligator Belly
Dyed Cobra - Purple
Alligator Belly
Dyed Cobra - Greens
Alligator Belly
Cobra - Hood Skins
 
Alligator Belly
Python - Natural
Alligator Belly
Python - Dyed Pastel
Alligator Belly
BOA - Natural
 
Alligator Belly
Karung - Cream
Alligator Belly
Karung - Pink 
Alligator Belly
Karung - Green 
 
 
Skin Category: Lizard
 
Alligator Belly
Tegu Lizard - Natural
Alligator Belly
Tegu Lizard - Dyed Green
Alligator Belly
Lizard
 
Alligator Belly
Crocodile Skink Lizard
Alligator Belly
Lizard - Dyed Red
Alligator Belly
Monitor (Ring) Lizard
 
 
Skin Category: Other Exotic Skins & Hides
 
Alligator Belly
Elephant
Alligator Belly
Ocelot
Alligator Belly
Ostrich Leg
 
Alligator Belly
Anteater or Pangolin
Alligator Belly
Zebra
Alligator Belly
Turtle
 
Alligator Belly
Jaguar
Alligator Belly
Frog
Alligator Belly
Ostrich - Full Quill
 
 
These are just a few examples of the variety of skins and hides available at Vintage Skins. This overview was developed in order to provide you with some general visual insight into the types of skins available. It is important to remember that exotic skins/hides, will vary in textures, patterns, and markings, depending on the individual hide, as well as the area of the hide that was used in the manufacture of the item.