Brake levers wrapped with twine and coated with shellac
Shellac is made from the waxy secretions of the lac insect, Kerria lacca. Shellac was widely used as a finish and waterproofing agent for many purposes. The original bicycles had wood or metal handle bars with no additions. Bicycle riders found that wrapping the metal of the handlebars with cloth tape gave a better grip and increased the comfort of the ride. However, moisture can seep into the cloth causing it to rot….
Source: Living With Insects Blog