The Bickmore Leather Company was started over 100 years ago by Dr. A. Parker Bickmore, who saw a need to treat draft horses who were plagued with sores caused by harness use. With his pharmaceutical knowledge and his business acumen, Bickmore created a salve that would effectively treat the horses. That simple salve was the beginning product of a company dedicated to producing the highest quality products for the leather industry (for a more in-depth look at their story, go here). Bickmore has a four pronged approach to their product line: leather care, health care, hat care, and equine grooming care products. They are constantly improving their products, and not settling for even good results. The Japanese word for this idea is kaizen, which Wikipedia defines as the “philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, and business management”.
BestLeather had the opportunity of reviewing a small sample of their product line: the Bick 1 Leather Cleaner ($9.99 for eight ounces), Bick 4 Leather Conditioner ($9.99 for eight ounces), and Gard-More Water & Stain Repellent ($9.99 for five point five ounces).
Bickmore’s leather care products are ideally meant to be used in a sequence. The Leather Cleaner is first. Its purpose is to remove soil, grease, spur marks, and most food and ink stains, while at the same time not discoloring or darkening the leather. This is important because dirt and grime can actually cut, damage or weaken the fibers of leather, leading to more rapid aging and deterioration. Bickmore’s Leather Cleaner is specifically formulated to clean leather, while allowing the leather to breathe, further allowing the fibers to flex freely.
The next step is to apply Bick 4, their Leather Conditioner. Bick 4 restores natural oils to the leather, lubricates the fibers, and helps to prevent scuffing, cracking, and some staining to occur. Bick 4 leaves behind no residue and contains no silicone, which allows the leather to breathe easier. Applying leather conditioner is important because it reduces the effects of sunlight exposure, normal wear and tear, and temperature extremes.
The last step is to apply Gard-More Water & Stain Repellent. This is a spray application, whereas Bick 1 and Bick 4 are a wipe on application. Similar to Bick 4, Gard-More has no silicone and is formulated to allow the leather to breathe appropriately. It does not stain or change the color of the leather in any way, but will still protect the leather from perspiration, water, and grease.
Of course, the best method of reviewing Bickmore’s products was to use them on some of our own, well used goods. For this article, I decided to use the three products on my Saddleback Leather large billfold wallet, which I have had for about two years now, and my Saddleback Leather 1 3/4″ tow belt (which is no longer in production). Both the wallet and the belt are Saddleback’s dark coffee brown, which over time, has lightened in color with heavy use.
To demonstrate the use of Bickmore’s products, I first took pictures of both the wallet and the belt before any treatment, then again after using Bick 1, and then again after using Bick 4. I did spray both the belt and the wallet with Gard-More, but as it is intended, the liquid quickly evaporated with no change in appearance. I figured that documenting the evaporation would be fairly tricky camera work, so the after pictures for the Gard-More were forgone.
For this review I focused on the inside of my wallet. The inside had the most use and abuse from repeatedly pulling credit cards in and out of the sleeves, as you can see from the photo below. The wallet also is a little discolored and pigmented from normal wear and tear.
Below is a picture of the wallet after using Bick 1 Leather Cleaner. Although there was not a lot of dirt and grime on the wallet per se, you can definitely tell a difference in the color and texture of the leather as a result of the cleaning. Much of the discoloration is gone, and the leather has more of a rich color again.
Below is a picture of the wallet after using Bick 4 Leather Conditioner. Although there is not much, if any, of a noticeable difference in appearance after using Bick 4, it is important that it be used to re-condition and moisturize the leather after using a cleaning agent. My wallet was looking used and abused and certainly does look better now. The cleaner and conditioner did not remove all evidence of the scratches, which I was very happy with. Part of the beauty of leather is the patina and the marks that you make, which gives it more character.
Similar to the wallet, my tow belt has received regular use. I pulled my belt off and unbeknownst to me, it had a nice stain on it. Of what, I’m not sure, and probably don’t want to know. With four little kids in my house, it could be anything. “Perfect for this review,” I thought.
Below is a picture of my belt before any application. Notice the stain, some discoloration, and some general looking wear.
Below is a picture of the belt after using Bick 1 Leather Cleaner. The difference in appearance is significant. That beautiful luster is back and this after a cleaning that took no more than 30 seconds. I used a simple white rag that I had laying around and used about a quarters size of cleaner. I rubbed the entire belt, but spent a little more time on the stain.
Here is the belt after applying Bick 4 Leather Conditioner. As with the wallet, I did not notice anything different with how the belt looked after the application. Several hours after applying Bick 4, I took another look at the belt and it looked the same as after the immediate application. This suggests a product that does not quickly fade, but rather really penetrates the leather as it is supposed to.
Using Bickmore’s leather care products was easy and had noticeable results. Their commitment to manufacturing products that allows leather to breathe as it should and to using chemicals that are completely leather friendly is commendable. The results of my mini-experiment demonstrate that Bickmore’s products work, and that they bring back to life faded and used leather. My belt and my wallet are thankful for this and I’m sure your leather goods will be too.