NEW-Vint. FRENCH SHRINER “Antique” Natural Whiskey Shell Cordovan Derby: 45WIDE


SOLD to Herrn T. S., Goch
  • French Shriner (Urner)
    Vintage Natural Shell Cordovan
    Plain Front Derby
    Circa 1970

    This is a fascinating shoe and, in my experience, one-of-a-kind. The model and the incredibly robust construction -double sole and additional 360 degree storm welt- while most impressive, are not the reasons for its uniqueness, rather the unusual color (for shell cordovan) and the development of stunning patina that only “Natural” shell cordovan achieves.

    To clarify: “Natural” shell cordovan is simply undyed vegetable-tanned horse shell, in this case from Horween Tannery in Chicago. And beause such leather is undyed, the surface may be dappled, upon close inspection. This is the beginning of oxidation and the normal chemical changes that we think of as patina. And this will continue and the leather will darken over time, as seen in the present shoe. “Natural” shell cordovan is said to be the most magical of all the cordovan shades because it lives and changes and, as you can see, changes with great drama. Of course many will prefer a solid, even, unchanging colour; “Natural” shell is not for them.

    “Whiskey” and “Ravello” are of this latter type, shades of light brown. These are dyed shell and, while similar to “Natural”, have little of the ability to develop the same rich patina over time. These colours are intended to provide a stable and little-changing surface, one without the “living colour” of “Natural”. Still, even these are seldom seen today, as the lighter colours tend to show every imperfection, and few hides, if any, are perfect. Horween offers these hides only on special order, and no shoemaker today is likely to risk using “Natural” undyed shell cordovan. Imagine, by the time you photograph it and advertise it, the shoe you have crafted has become a different colour!

    The present shoe, circa 1960, new and unworn, is a living thing. Never having been polished in half a century but to have the “sweat” from tanning brushed off, this overarchingly beautiful object has begun to transform itself even in the shadows of storage. Now, liberated, in the light of day, it will be the prize in the collection of a very fortunate gentleman.

    Size Details:

    US 11.5EE……UK 10.5G/H……Continental 45EE, for the wider foot.

    Shoe Condition:

    New and unworn. Sold without trees.

Article Number: 91156 Category: Tags: ,

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