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Nettleton shell cordovan shoes

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Last night I won an ebay auction for a pair of shell cordovan semi-brogues made by a company in Syracuse, NY called Nettleton. A yahoo search shows that the company provided fine men's stores in the US with handmade shoes from 1879 until 1984, when they went out of business. They resumed business in 1990, when the name was bought by a different company, but this is all I know about them. I don't know whether or not they are still in business, but a post on AskAndy says their manufacturing facility is now a condominium. The shoes cost me $132.05, including shipping, and the buyer's description of the shoes is: # NETTLETON style #24517 # Genuine shell cordovan saddle oxford # 5 hidden eyelets styling with traditional wax shoelaces # Double oak tanned leather soles with rounded edges # Leather heels with round metal insert # 360 degree Goodyear welting # Fully leather lined # Leather insole # Perforations around saddle, backstay and eyelet edge # New in box, never worn Here are the pictures: Does anyone know anything more about this shoe maker, Nettleton? (a search shows only one forum post about Nettleton, a single question with no responses) I think this was a good deal, though I'll post more after I've had a chance to inspect the shoes and try them on. Comments? P.S. A web-blurb about the history of Syracuse says this: A.E. Nettleton Company, founded here in 1879, considered its product to be the Rolls Royce of footwear. The company designed and introduced the Loafer in 1937. Since then this shoe has become classic American footwear. Any comments on the claim that Nettleton invented the loafer? That they were the "Rolls Royce of footwear"? I seem to recall that Alden claims to have invented the tassel loafer around the same time.
post #2 of 19
I don't know much about Nettleton either, but my father's family is from upstate NY and I've heard him bemoan the closure of Nettleton Shoes.  He may even have some old pairs.  Nettleton's come up on EBay once in a while and they are invariably good looking and sturdy looking.  Comparable to Alden I would guess in quality.  From your photos, the shoes look very nicely finished--inside and out.  Nice find.
post #3 of 19
The full leather heel is interesting and...slippery - be careful. They look nice. Jeff
post #4 of 19
The full leather heel is interesting and...slippery - be careful. They look nice. Jeff
I have a pair of new old-stock AE's that i've only worn to try on. They have essentially the same heel style and find them to be slippery - I've been thinking of putting something over them for the same reason.
post #5 of 19
a search shows only one forum post about Nettleton, a single question with no responses
I think it was me who posted that question about Nettleton (and never got an answer). Nettleton have a stellar reputation as the manufacturers of the best American men's shoes (bar none). Whether this reputation is justified or has been enhanced by time and a golden halo, I wouldn't know. I've never seen or touched (let alone worn) a pair. The shoes in your pictures look very well made. As you should have them in your possession within a few days, let's have your impressions here. P.S. Alden lays claim to have invented the Tassel-Loafer back in 1947 or so. Bass claims to have introduced the loafer (Weejuns) from Norway into the Staates.
post #6 of 19
I like those shoes, good find.
post #7 of 19
I think you've done well. My father used to buy certain brands of shoes in the 1960's among them shoes like these. Back then, even a Florsheim shoe was very well made from what I recall. Good job.
post #8 of 19
Nettleton was indeed a premier maker, regarded as the equal of Florsheim Imperials. My Uncle Jude wore them as his wedding/courtroom shoe. they are similar in quality and trad styling to a fine New England shoe that vanished at about the same time, Walk-Over
post #9 of 19
Nettleton had a slogan something like 'America's slowest made shoe.' You made a great find with shoes on par with Alden I would say. My sister had a few pairs she got from an estate. They were very impressively made shoes. In later years the company was bought out, which is why you'll see a lot of Italian crocodile loafers listed as Nettletons on ebay.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your input. I'll let you know my impressions once I have the shoes, probably late next week or early the following week (I'll be out of town on business until Wednesday).
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
I received my Nettleton shoes yesterday and I'm very impressed. They came in a battered, weathered Nettleton box (inside a UPS box), but the shoes are pristine and, to the extent that I am able, my inspection confirms the ebay description posted above. I've written a detailed description below, in the event that someone else may have the opportunity to purchase a pair of Nettleton shoes. Inside one sole, the shoes are stamped in gold lettering Progressive Shoe Store Pontotoc, MS and along one side of each shoe is black lettering which reads: 11 ½ D 78327 11 E4 HEEL B 24517N Although the toe box is slightly more trim than the pictures indicate, I would characterize the shape of the shoes as "solid" or "substantial" (to some "clunky"), similar to shoes built on the Alden lasts. Compared with my Alden shell cordovan leisure handsewns, the leather used by Nettleton for these shoes is thinner and softer. Its outer texture actually looks and feels more like my calfskin shoes than shell cordovan. The color is more red than the Horween color 8 and has a much better shine, with similar depth to the shine as my Alden's. Overall, I really like the look, so I hesitate to apply an initial treatment of Alden shoe cream, lest I dull the shine. The shoes came with an insert, as weathered looking as the box, which reads: "Leather in Bloom Your shoes have been hand polished with a fine wax. A white film will form on hand polished shoes when stored in a closed box. This is wax oozing to the surface and is called "˜bloom'. A wipe with a soft polishing cloth will bring the original luster back." After initially inspecting the outer surface of the leather, I began to doubt whether or not the shoes are really shell cordovan, but the depth of the shine, the stamp on the sole, and the insert lead me to believe they are authentic shell cordovan (The "bloom" is a feature of shell cordovan). The shoes themselves are fully lined and appear to be very carefully hand stitched, without a single loose thread. The stitching is very fine and slightly irregular in length, especially near corners. The shoes are reinforced in the heel and toe-box areas. The double soles are thicker than the single soles of my Alden bluchers, with stacked heels. The edges of the soles are stained black and the soles appear Goodyear welted to the uppers (No stitching is visible inside the shoe [though I don't expect to see any stitching, as they are lined], nor can I feel any interior stitching of the outsole to the insole). As I was warned, the leather heels with metal insert make the shoes very slippery, at least on carpet. The fit is good--relatively snug, without being tight. It seems from the interior stamp "HEEL B", that Nettleton, like Alden, sizes the heel two sizes down from the stated shoe width of "D". Overall, I think this pair of Nettleton shoes is slightly superior to Alden shoes that I own or have inspected in stores, in both construction and materials, and the finish is definitely superior. Once classes start in the Fall, I'll wipe off the "bloom" and begin wearing them regularly. Then I'll learn how the thinner leather holds up and how they respond to scuffs (ugh) compared to my Alden shell cordovan shoes. I expect with regular use of shoe trees and occasional polishing, I'll enjoy the Nettleton shoes for many years. Oh, the ebay seller also included a shoe horn from the Progressive Shoe Store of Pontotoc, MS, but no shoe trees or shoe bags were provided.
post #12 of 19
I brought a pair of Nettleton alligator loafers for $75 in 1969. At that time Nettleton and Jonhston&Murphy were considered the best American made shoes. Quality started to decline in the 70's.
post #13 of 19

I have , and still wear, 3 pairs of the split toe tassel loafers I bought in 1967 and 1968

As far as I am concerned, they are by far the best made shoe ever to come out of the USA. It was a shame they closed down.
post #14 of 19
I was just reading a thread here, in which Doc Holiday was raving about them. Good vouch in my opinion.

Looks like a very nice pair, especially for the money.
post #15 of 19
You did very well getting these Nettletons. They are a top shoe. I have a couple of pairs.
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