Most SFers know me for my vintage shoe collection.
Here are my thoughts on the issue of buying vintage shoes.
As alluded to by Doc H dryness and rot are the biggest issues - predominately around the heel area which is the thinnest and most exposed to air area. I get my cobbler to install an invisible leather strip inside the heel area which fixes that problem. Even minor splitting is not a problem.
I then use a few apps of Pecards to cope with vintage ageing.
Nevertheless I bought a NOS pair of spade soles Crosby Squares from the late 30s/40s recently that are in perfect condition.
I have 2 pairs which are so wonderful and unique being NOS that I think am going to donate them to the Powerhouse Museum shoe collection in Sydney.http://www.abc.net.au/tv/collectors/...s/s1711528.htm http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/m/home.php
Here is a pair of ventilated spectators by Crosby Square from the 1930s/40s = perfect condition
A pair of spade captoes (size 7.5D) by Crosby Square from the 1930s/40s = perfect condition.
Generally when you buy vintage shoes you know what to look for but obviously the immediate appearance of the conditon of the shoes and the insides are a consideration. Obvious rot and flaking and dryness will be apparent. Heavy footbed use is another.
IMHO most of the vintage shoes (genuine like 40s/50s) on eBay seems to be worn infrequently if ever - maybe to church on Sunday.
Look at my 10.5E companion pair of Weyenberg Massagics to IBJanky above - so little wear. I wear them at least once a fortnight in my rotation (like 20 pairs!):
From there it is pot luck
The point about vintage shoes is the style and finish of them and their unusualness and comfort.
That is the attraction - otherwise buy the modern variety or get MTO.
I intend to get some of my vintage shoes that fit perfectly copied further down the track.