Your input on this is incredible, Sir DWFII... as usual! Just wanted to add that I agree 100% with your early comment that my collection is really NOT a proper representation of what the BEST of Vintage shoes had to offer. In fact, my collection (and the shoes I like to deal with) are the best of "what still survives". There is a drop off, quality wise between the 20's to the 30's to the 40's, and finally the 50's. After that, quality is waaaaay down. I prefer 30's, style wise, but the best I have ever seen are from the late 1800's and very early 1900's. The workmanship is unreal, to say the least. So sad that none of them are wearable today. 100 year old leather is simply past it's expiration date.
About leather quality, my 94 year old cobbler has told me that he believes that the "intended use" of today's cattle is a major factor. Today, cattle are raised for food and breeding purposes first, and for the most part, the hides are almost an afterthought. All the steroids and supplements added to their diets may be good for meat, but not so for the leather. He says that when he was still a boy, there were cattle that were bred and raised for the quality of leather they could produce.
What are your thoughts on this?