Yes indeed, I was in the market for a good pair of work oxfords and then the half-Japanese option came along.Speaking of which, I hate to tempt you more, but have you ever seen the Coupen boot by Rolling Dub Trio? Pretty nice.,
Mansway has got some nice boots (and shoes). I spent some time coveting several of their boots before giving up on the idea. Some are made specially for them by White's and also by Julian and are things you can't get elsewhere it seems. I remember looking at these oxfords (I think, or similar ones) but didn't know they were White's. They've also got some nice Wescos as I recall.
Oh right, SD rather than BH, but those are the ones I was thinking of. They look great I think-- nearly made me switch to Swing Last. Really like the Munson like curve to the outer toe area, and nice rounded toe. But other pics of the Swing Last don't have quite as nice a shape. So, not sure if they'd end up looking as good as these or not...
Ah yes, that's much more than dryness -- looks like the whole top layer of the leather has been scraped off. I have heard of people using "deer bone" to smooth leather that has been roughed up, though not sure how well it actually works. You could leave as is and have some tough looking boots. But if you wanted to address it, seems like you'd have to somehow smooth that spot a bit (if possible) and then maybe put some actual polish on it. Keep us posted..