How long will a well salted cape last before it will be bruined and not be able to be professionally tanned? What are some of the characteristics I should look at to tell if the cape is ruined or beyond salvage?
Thanks in advance
There are WAYYY too many variables to have any guarantees of a good tan, as sometimes even a hide that goes to the tannery quickly can have issues for a variety of reasons. In general, however, a properly salted and dried skin that has been stored in low humidity and an insect-free area can last a really long time and be fine for tanning. The only way to know for sure is to send it to the tannery and hope for the best. I've had salt-dried hides that were stored for years do fine.
I suggest you call a tannery of your choice and talk specifics of your particular cape's "history" to get a better idea of the probable outcome.
Lonewolf is right,
even though the salted skin looks good from the outside insects & mice can ruin one without you knowing it.
I tanned a Cape Buffalo in my studio that was salted for 15 years, Turned out fine, Elephant cape that was 9 years old, Tanned fine.
Moose cape that I bought was already salted & folded by the customer & stored for 2 years.
Soaked up in the pickle & found a Mouse had a house in the face & ate the entire nostril skins & the ear bases.
If you arent the one that fleshed & folded it, & you controled the storage like Lonewolf said, you take a chance of loosing money by getting it tanned.