14 March 2011

The Shell Game

It may seem like I know absolutely everything, but in fact I learn a lot writing this blog. It's one of the perks, and I'm glad to have expanded my advice pool to such an absurd degree.

In my last post, I claimed my new favorite shoes to be shell cordovan, and many of you cried foul, albeit in a concise and gentlemanly way. I thank you all for it, and respectfully take it on the chin. Truth be told, my knowledge of the earmarks of used shell cordovan come only from internet babble, with no hands on experience.
So, these shoes are really nice, and buttery soft, and well maintained, and they were cheap...but they ain't shell cordovan. The tiny creases are the give-away. Live and learn. However...
These shoes, an old pair of Florsheim Royal Imperials, purchased ages ago for $20, may well be shell cordovan. Apparently the "waves" rather than creases are the dead give away. These shoes were my old favorites, before the new tassels came into the picture. I'll be damned. And then...

...there's these. They have the waves, they take a soaking well, and I bought them the same day in the same store as the longwings, also $20. Are they shell cordovan? Maybe...who cares?

In the end, they're all nice shoes. The wings and pennies were old when I got them, have given me years of service, and show no signs of quitting. The tassels are old too, and have a long life ahead of them. In the long run, maybe it doesn't matter all that much. Three pair of classic and well made shoes for $48.95 is hard to argue with, no?

In future, I'll be more diligent in my homework assignments...promise.

p.s. I'm the kind of sucker who's dead sure he can beat this guy. That's why I don't gamble.


Anonymous said...

The Florsheims are almost certainly shell, the loafers, maybe not. The wrinkling at the corners, near the moc toe stitching looks weird. Plus, I don't know of any moccasin-constructed shell cordovan loafers, it seems like an unlikely thing to build.

Sean said...

I have those same shell Royal Imperial longwings. I found two pairs of them in two different thrift shops, same day--one in my size, one in a friend's size. It was a good day. They're great shoes.

JASH said...

Manifold is correct.

Also, there are moc-constructed shell Weejuns; McNairy did them a few years back. Check ACL for a post on the matter if you're curious.

Joseph Holmes comedy said...

Yeah, the Florsheims most certainly shell.
the real rare find is pre-1990 florsheim longwings that aren;t shell or pebble grain.

J & M, Florsheim and Bostonian (among others) made shell pennies.

They are a rare thing to find, especially with a beefroll.

It's a bit tough since most old pennies are corrected grain, which can look very shell-like, and moc-toes can wave in a shell-like manner.

A good rule of thumb at the thrift store is:
If you're not sure if it' s shell or calf-it's calf,
if you're not sure if it's shell or corrected grain-it might be shell.


Jho78 said...

Imagine the pride I feel as the first to suggest that the longwings might be shell after "All In The Details."

Giuseppe said...

Jho 78,

Thed gold star is definitely yours on that one.

JKG said...

I have a pretty nice pair Imperial pebble-grain longwings scored for cheap and constantly have my eye out for a pair in shell cordovan. That's a nice quiver of footwear, G.

You sound a little down about the strike on your shell detection -- buck up, camper. Those damn Alden indy boots should still have you floating on a cloud of horserump leather.

Alex said...

So if I were to have (as I do) a pair of pebble grain longwings with that (almost) exact same roll to the toe area does that mean they're shell?

Or is pebble grain a different thing?

Because if they're shell that would mean I have an unmarked pair of shoes that I thought were nice that are actually really nice.

Cameron said...

Odds are yours are simply pebble grained calf leather, which by no means is a bad thing. However, I have seen a few cases of pebble-grained shell. These are really limited in number, so just odds wise, you probably have calfskin. You would need to post a photo or research the numbers in the instep of the shoe.

Alex said...


the pics are here. As I look more closely the rolls are similar, but mine does have some micro-creases between the larger rolls in the instep. Either way, I think we can all agree all the shoes being discussed here are pretty awesome.