Thanks for that professional advice. What would be your take on my vintage brown gator Nettletons? - as an idea of age - the seller's grandfather owned them. The black croc ones are around 1960s I suspect.
Without handling them...and even then no guarantee...there's very little I can tell you about your Nettletons. That said, I can make some educated guesses. Since they belonged to the seller's grandfather they were probably made in, or around, the 1920's. They were cut from the older, dry tannage that had the Bombe' finish. The skin was probably 40-50 cm (or more) across and another, higher grade pair of shoes were taken from the skin first. This left only tail or very large tiles for the quarters and forced a piecing of the vamp from leather that didn't really match the quarters. [When a very good maker uses alligator or crocodile for a top shelf bespoke pair of shoes he will match the vamps for tile size and shape. And he will cut the quarters in close proximity.] Alligator or croc is expensive, however, and sometime in a desperate effort to squeeze every inch out of the skin some rather questionable cuts will be made. There is a pair of loafers in this thread that has the apron cut crosswise from the tail. To these eyes it not only looks like the devil, it raises questions about flexibility...right over the joint--where the shoe should be most flexible. If your Nettleton's are in decent shape and you keep them that way...keep them clean and conditioned...they should last another 50-60 years.
As for wear properties, alligator is much, much denser than calf skin. in the last 30 years or so alligator and crocodile have been tanned with more modern chemicals and they are comparatively much softer than the old Bombe' finished skins. That said, even with a razor sharp knife it can be difficult to cut some of the tiles that verge into the back or in the tail. So, a shoe made with tail leather, for instance, will not crease as finely or conform to the foot as easily as a shoe made with belly or throat. That can affect comfort. On the other hand any leather that develops deep and fine creases or, more importantly, has a texture that creates extreme variations in surface will collect dirt and dust and this is where the shoe will deteriorate first. In many localities, a certain percentage of dirt is actually comprised of fine volcanic rock or glass--the High Desert of Central Oregon is one such place. Alligator is very scuff resistant and very durable. I don't have any hard evidence but I would guess that the newer tannages of alligator will out last calfskin four to one, all other things (like cleaning and conditionaing) being equal. A 30cm skin--measured across the belly--will run roughly $300.00-$500.00 wholesale. For a full cut oxford you would need two. That should give you a starting figure for pricing shoes made with alligator. Of course that's the "St. James Av." quality--the best belly cut with the smallest tiles.
Thanks for the info! I guess a pair of alligator shoes is in my future.
Those really are quite nice. I like the way the binding on the quarters is taken from an area--throat or armpit--with very small tiles and relatively supple leather. I am guessing but I think the tongue is separate from the vamp and wouldn't be surprised to see a seam under the instep band. It looks really good done that way, however. I like the way the vamps and quarters have been carefully matched. Very possibly...maybe even likely the more I look at them...all one piece. What I wonder about is why they are a different colour in the heel area. Is that just weird lighting?
What would be your take on my vintage brown gator Nettletons? - as an idea of age - the seller's grandfather owned them. The black croc ones are around 1960s I suspect.
The black gators circa 1966-1972 (+or - 2yrs). I purchased the loafer version in 1969 for $75 or $79. Keep in mind most high end calf or suede shoes retailed in the range of $30-35. Some brands would have been Nettletons, JM, Bally, Stacy Adams, Florsheim, E.T. Wright, Stetson, Edwin Clapp , Howard Foster, and more.
Stetson wingtip specs. Not alligator, but a solid shoe.
I'll go ahead and be the lone dissenting voice. I think gators look terrible. Just tacky tacky tacky.
+1. I think they are gaudy and ugly and I don't see the point of spending the money that people spend on exotic skin shoes. Most of them (and yes even the ones posted on this thread) all look like wanna be pimp shoes.