1854 - 1906: The foundation

Tannin extracts revolutionises the art of tanning

Tannin ranks among the earliest manufactured products of the industrial revolution. The first extraction of tannin took place in small plants in France, during the first half of the 19th century. Its main application was vegetable tanned leather. In the Middle Ages, leathers were treated by immersing them into water with wood or bark rich in tannins, such as the chestnut, oak or gallnut.

The processes were long and not much improved compared to those practiced by the ancient Egyptians and had not changed since the Renaissance.

In a proclamation published in 1564, Medici’s Court established that the leathers should remain at least six months in the tanning vats. These vats were in the same place four centuries later, and it was the largest tanning centre in the world established on the banks of the river Arno. Around the middle of the 1800's the great change for the use of tannin extracts was announced. Manufacturing times shortened to one month, revolutionising the ancient process.

Corsaglia di Frabosa, the factory that marked the origins of the Silvateam Group

The foundation of the Corsaglia di Frabosa plant in Piedmont dates back to 1854. Initially set up for “weighing” the silk from the Lyon factory, this small facility was the founding nucleus of the Silvateam Group. It is the oldest of all the factories and has been in operation for over 150 years. During the following five decades at least 20 new plants for the production of chestnut extract were established in different Italian regions, with productions varying between 300 and 1,000 tonnes per year of pure tannin.

At that time, the price of the chestnut extract was around 100 lire/100Kgs, but the added value generated from the tannin production and its commercialisation gave way to a rapid development of economic activity at the foot of the Alps and Apennines.