How to Restore an Old and Cracked Leather Football

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Whether you collect old leather footballs for sentimental reasons or to build a portfolio of valuable sports memorabilia, you will want to keep them looking their best. Over time, leather can age and become covered with cracks. Very dry leather can eventually crumble if not properly cared for, so it is important to condition leather periodically so that it keeps its shape. In order to restore an old, cracked leather football, you can try a number of different tactics.

Use a soft brush to gently remove any surface dust or debris on the outside of the football. Be careful not to squeeze the football, as this can damage the leather further.

Apply a thin layer of oil to the surface of the football. Olive oil or neatsfoot oil will work, but these oils can darken the color of the leather. If you want to preserve the current shade of the leather, avoid natural oils. Make sure to wipe away the excess oil with a clean dry cloth, because leftover oil could go rancid over time.

Select a leather recoloring balm that matches the color of the football. This will not repair the cracks, but will effectively mask the exposed fabric that the cracks have revealed. Leather recoloring balms or recoloring kits can be purchased at hobby shops, farm supply stores, or furniture showrooms.

Treat the football with leather conditioner every year to maintain its sheen and keep the leather supple. This can help to prevent further cracks or deterioration.

Tips

Avoid displaying the football under bright lights or in direct sunlight. This can "cook" the leather, making it age more rapidly.

Warnings

If your old football has potential value as a collectible (for example, if it is signed by a famous coach or player), consult an appraiser before attempting to restore the football yourself. Incorrect restoration can decrease the value of a collectible football. Since these items can be worth thousands, it is important to treat them carefully, and invest in specially formulated antique leather dressing if need be.

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