[Central European Master Series] *LÁSZLÓ VASS, HUNGARY, Bespoke SHELL CORDOVAN Budapester and Trees; 40-40.5D/E (US 7-7.5D/E)


  • A Rare and Unusual
    Bespoke / Custom-Made
    Shell Cordovan, Full Medallion Wing Tip Derby Brogue
    László Vass
    Euro 850

    The concentration of bespoke shoemakers in Vienna and Budapest in the last century, inheritors of the great traditions of the Dual Monarchy, the K. u. K. time, is remarkable. A few of the contemporary continental masters, but also some English and American, are represented in László Vass und Magda Molnár’s seminal book “Herrenschuhe handgearbeitet”, a book well know to shoe lovers or collectors. Still it is not within the scope of this excellent book to innumerate the late great masters whose days at the cobbler’s bench are ended but whose masterpieces are still remembered and even changing hands among collectors. In some cases these firms exist but the old masters whose name they bear now tread a more ethereal ground; George Cleverley immediately comes to mind. In Vienna, in the Singerstrasse, there was Bela Nagy, known for his most elegant and chiseled toe, and wooden nailing. I have it on the generous authority of my very knowledgeable Viennese client, Dr.R.R., who patronized him until Nagy retired in the late 1960, that Nagy’s clientele was taken over by the still thriving Georg Materna. The venerable firm of Scheer & Söhne is still very much in operation and the Senior Herr Scheer was still working when both Dr. R and I stopped in to the Scheer workrooms on different occasions last fall. Going further back, in the 1940s and 50s, there was, for one, the excellent firm of Schilhavy-Rosenzeig. Herrn Rosenzweig himself, I learned, remained active into the late 1960s, working from home in the Himmelpfortgasse. There were others, of course, the excellent Herr Reicher on the Kühnplatz, retired these 10 years, and yet others in Budapest. For the collector the hand work of these great craftsmen remains precious and is much sought after, not only for its extreme rarity but that it memorializes the quality (and variety of individual styles) of the best traditional Central European craftsmanship in this field.

    Vass and Molnar mention many of the contemporary masters of which, to be sure, Vass himself, in his custom work, is one. Many bespoke shoemakers today present a ready-made line of shoes, whether made by them or for them, and Vass is no exception. He markets an attractive line in the popular English taste, with a more pointed and chiseled toe than in the local tradition. These are perfectly well made and recommended but it his superior custom work in which we are interested here.

    The shoe in this listing is immediately recognizable as being in the traditional Austro-Hungarian style, what we have come to call the Budapester, with its emblematic tall and rounded toe box. It is an entirely hand made shoe, made to measure in Vass’s atelier, a Full Wing-Tip Derby Brogue in Shell cordovan. The double sole is channeled and skived, and the combination heel with replaceable rubber inset is hand nailed with grouped brass nails in the old fashion. Its own Vass shoe trees are included.

    The rarity of this shoe in the after-market cannot be over emphasized. There are at best a few ready-made Vass shoes to be found at any time but no more than one or two custom-made shoe a year by this important shoemaker. One should not expect to encounter another pair, both custom made and in Shell Cordovan, in this size, from Vass, again. If you are assembling a collection of custom shoes of the great bespoke shoemakers and lack one from the hand of László Vass, there is no finer to be had than this pair. If you have the good fortune of taking a size 40-40.5 shoe, there is no more well made nor more surpassingly beautiful example of the classic Budapester for you to wear.

    Size Details:

    By my careful measurement using fixed-size lasts, I take this to be a Continental 40-40.5 D/E (US 7-7.5 D/E) (UK 6.5 E/F), correct for a mid-width to slightly wider foot.

    Shoe Condition:

    Superb, showing slightest wear to all original bottoms. Tops hardly even creased. Wonderful.


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