tomi233 asked: You seem to have really good luck in finding cordovan florsheim shoes. I honestly would not be able to pick out a pair if I found some while thrift shopping. What should I be looking for? Thanks!
I think the easiest way to describe the difference would be to use pictures. Calf leathers will crease and grain with age and use (which is quite beautiful IMO, when born of age and proper shoe care). Shell cordovan, on the other hand, doesn’t really crease—it bubbles and warps (for lack of better terms). Hopefully these pics will help you identify shell cordovan when you see it.
What often confuses matters even more is that people will often use the word cordovan as a stand-in for burgundy or oxblood as a color. This is especially the case on ebay and other sites where used clothing and shoes are for sale. Just because something is described as cordovan, does not necessarily mean it is made of shell cordovan. While vintage shell cordovan shoes do most often—in my experience at least—come in a kind of burgundyish color, newer makes of shell shoes can come in pretty much any color, Q.E.D.
Shoe Care: Saphir Renovateur
I’m certainly not the first, nor, I suspect, will I be the last, to extol the virtues of the French shoe care product Saphir Renovateur. It really is something else. I recently picked up a jar of the stuff and have been slowly working my way through some of my shoes with it.
It’s both a moisturizing agent as well as a cleaner, and for me, if you keep your shoes in pretty good shape (i.e., the type of person who brushes shoes off after each wear, diligently keeps shoe trees in all your shoes, etc.) then a spot of Renovateur every month or so is a great way to keep them looking and feeling healthy between more serious polishings and waxings.
On an additional note, I just picked up the Florsheim Royal Imperial Shell Cordovan Longwings you see here today while out thrifting. The uppers and inners are in pretty great shape—especially given their age—but they could do with a new sole. The uppers looked a little worse for wear when I brought them home, but after a little treatment with the Renovateur I’d say they look pretty great.
They’re a size 9A (though they do seem a bit larger and wider than other 9As I’ve come across), which is to say they’re too small for me. They’ll probably go up on ebay sometime in the near(ish) future as I’ve got a bunch of stuff I need to list. If you wear a 9A, and are seriously interested in a great pair of Florsheim Royal Imperial Shell Cordovan Longwings that need a resoling, then feel free to drop me a line with a price that you think would be reasonable. Please, no lowballers…