Antik, CUSTOM-MADE, Lee Kee (Hong Kong) “Ventilated” Spectator, Circa 1950: 41,5D/E
€380.00SOLD to Dr. D. B., Imola, Italia
Size: 41-41.5 [US.8-8.5] [UK 7-7.5]
Styles: Collectors Shoes/Object d'Art, Custom-Bespoke-Maas, Spectators
Custom-Made, Circa 1950
by Hong Kong’s great traditional master shoemaker
“Ventilated” Mesh 6-Eyelet Spectator
“More Two-Tone Oxfords were sold this season than ever before“, announces the advertisement for a dapper pair of Spectators in the Sears Roebuck & Co. catalogue from the year 1928/29.
“King or Commoner’, der Spectator ist der Schönwetter-Schuh des Gentleman.”
To the best of my knowledge the Ventilated Mesh Spectator, an exclusively American invention, appears to have been made in America by two firms only, Jarman or Roblee, and sold under different manufacturers and retailers names, and were brought to market under the labels of myriad shoe stores small and large, coast to coast. Production of this type of Spectator began in the 1930s and came to an end in the 1960s.
This shoes appears to be an exception, although apart from the Lee Kee logo sewn into the lining, the shoes is otherwise indestinguishable from its American counterpart. Even the rubber heel is an American-made import of the period. This is, so to speak, a custom-made copy of an earlier ready-made American shoe model. Presumably the gentleman who comissioned it from Lee Kee could no longer find this antique model in the shops and resorted to the not inconsiderable expense of having it duplicated by this master shoemaker.
The old Asia hands among us will remember Lee Kee, the custom shoemaker in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong. Their shoes represented the height of luxury, not to mention prices, and they specialized in exotic reptile leathers, alligator, crocodile, lizard, snake and the forbidden giant sea turtle, listed elsewhere in the website. I have no doubt that somewhere in the outer districts of the city Lee Kee’s workers were eating what did not go into the shoes, but we were spared that sight in his pristine showroom in the Peninsula. Since the 1950’s and the occupation of Shanghai by the Red forces, Hong Kong, long the Eastern outpost of the British Empire, became the Mecca for tailoring, dressmaking and shoemaking to the European trade, and the premiere destination for exacting shoppers in the Orient. Lee Kee, occupying the most prominent shop, in the most prominent location in the most luxurious hotel in Hong Kong, naturally garnered much of this elevated trade. And deservedly, his handwork is a testament to the skill of his workmen and this present shoe is a prime example of bespoke shoemaking at its very finest.
Size Details:while no size is indicated in this custom-made shoe, my careful measurements confirm that it is a generous 41,5D (not quite a 43 and not quite an E fitting, but approaching)....thus US 8.5plus, D/E........UK 7,5plus, E/F, for the medium to slightly wider foot.
Excellent. All original and very lightly worn.