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Late-July Shoe Report: Antique Follow-up and Polo Mystery

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Following up on my quarterly shoe report, the antiquing job on my Ralph Lauren Double Monks (C&J?) was stripped through the judicious use of a little isopropyl alcohol and elbow grease.



I usually avoid blind Ebay purchases, especially for Italian shoes with their lasting eccentricities and variability in quality. Sketchy sellers are also another problem, though I decided to gamble on these Lidforts, and managed to hit the virtual thrift jackpot. As the selection of Ralph Lauren Polo C&J/Sanders(?) shoes began to dry up on Styleforum’s favorite virtual shoe store, GVH, a pair of three-eyelet antique tan derbies (identical last as the Chawners (double-monks) and Tellman) appeared in my size. I had worn the double monks three or four times at this point, and decided that they rank pretty high on my fit and comfort scale. Scrapping up some Ebay funds, I placed a snipe, and won them for a very reasonable price. When they arrived, I was a bit disappointed—they had been obviously tried on, the dust cloth was missing, and, worst of all, the color on the shoes did not match at all. Not giving up hope, I broke out my bottle of isopropyl alcohol and some ethanol wipes, and went to work. Before pics aren’t available, but you can check out the results below.

Though I was the originator of the CT shoe thread, I honestly don’t need anymore shoes, and have vowed not buy anything less than AE/Peal-Sargent/Ferragamo-LO level of shoedom. I regret not picking up a few “slim-fit” casual shirts for the weekend and such, but the savings allowed me to gamble on the bluchers, PLUS one more gamble. Thanks to poor quality photos, I found another pair of Polo English-made bluchers in my size for a gamble-worthy price. Even if the lasting didn’t fit me, the fact they were English-made, and in advertised “new, floor sample” condition, led me to believe that I could at least recoup my cost if everything didn’t work out. I placed a bottom feeder snipe and won! Seller pics for both derbies below:

After a little NCT magic (Bostonian carnuba wax, JM Weston beeswax, water, and a T-shirt) over three weeknight episodes of Sportscenter before bedtime, I managed to clean-up and mirror shine my new acquisitions. BTW, my total expense was a bit more than the advertised CT footwear fire sale. Results below:

Since this is an EDUCATIONAL THREAD, and not just another post about showing off my new goodies (it is…), please note the DIFFERENCE in the SOLE picture. The newer, and marginally higher quality English “benchmade” Polos sold by GVH of Crockett and Jones or Sanders origin feature a channeled sole, and slightly beveled waist, while the older English-“benchmade” Polos from an unknown era, display a stiched aloft sole. Which leads to the mystery of this thread, WHEN WERE THESE MADE? And, are they still C&J? Considering the heel counter, nail pattern, level of finish, and shape of the last, my bet would still stand with Crockett and Jones. I would also venture that the retail on these was probably around $425-450ish—the retail on the English line in the late-nineties. Opinions, personal experiences, and commentary about the aesthetic preference for two and three eyelet bluchers will be entertained.

PS: BTW, the black derbies are replacing a pair of Bally square-toes that were purchased before the advent of Styleforum, which have been serving faithfully as rain shoes. That responsibility will now be shared by a pair of Aldens and AE. The Ballys are headed to the SA.
post #2 of 11
Nice shoes. Good job on restoring the Polos.
post #3 of 11
I recall the shoes well. I was going to bid on them (I recall the bid ended at 8:30 am or so here in the west) and I got busy and didn't get back in time. I did notice that they had gone off at a very reasonable price. Glad you got them and more importantly that you were able to polish them back to a great shoe. I really like the comfort and look of the 2 and 3 eyelet shoes. Also please help me out on the "channeled" sole. If I understand your paragraph above the tan shoes are the "newer, marginally higher quality." But it appears that the "channeled sole" is the sole without a channel???? Perry
post #4 of 11
Originally Posted by norcaltransplant
And, are they still C&J?
I have little doubt, they're both Crockett & Jones.

If you order a wholesale range from C&J (or whoever), one that gets made up to your specifications, as opposed to items from stock, then you will be able to specify whether or not want a channelled sole (presuming the company in question is set up in it's machinery for either method.)

Channelled sole will add, maybe GBP 5.00 or so, to the wholesale price.
post #5 of 11
Appreciate it.
post #6 of 11
if those are 8.5's, you are the bastard who beat me out! Nice work though.
post #7 of 11
Great post NCT. I haven't been following the earlier installments of this thread, but wonder why you stripped the antiquing from the double monks. They looked great from your "before" picture. The two pairs of bluchers are very nice, but they sure project a different look, don't they, with the tan pair so sleek and elegant-looking and the black shoes, obviously on a very different C&J last, much more stolid and ready for hard work. Are both pairs a good fit? If so, you're lucky that shoes made from such different lasts both work for you.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
My feet are a bit smaller than 8.5. I recommend checking eBay right now for a cool pair of Lidforts in your size.

The channeled sole refers to the construction of the shoe. "Channeling" involves cutting away a thin strip of the sole leather, attaching the uppers to the welt, and then tacking the thin strip of leather back onto the sole. Posters periodically complain about their Greens or Grensons peeling apart at the sole--its just the channeling wearing away or coming undone. Its a purely aesthetic feature.

Stiched aloft is the proper term to describe a goodyear welted shoe with exposed stiching.

The darkened highlights looked nice when I first applied the polish, but looked rather inconsistent after limited wear. Scuffs often revealed the base layer. This could be remedied by a quick touch up, but I'm lazy and don't want to deal with the hassle. Instead, I spent another hour or two stripping off 80-85% of the original highlights, and then reapplying another coat of wax. I intentionally left the stripping process a little spotty to retain a few of the highlights. The resulting "patina" appears very natural in real life, though the shoes have been worn 5-6 times max.

Btw, the black and tan bluchers are almost the same width. The Tan shoes are approximately 1/4 to 1/2" longer. This is a bit of a surprise since they are actually a half size smaller than the black pair. Both are comfortable, though I might need to pick up a pair of tongue pads.
post #9 of 11
norcal, I really like very much your results on both the monks and derbies. Not to beat a dead horse, but an you quickly detail the stripping and re-coloring process that you went through? Thanks.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Stripping Process:
  • For quicker results. Apply an alcohol prep pad or acetone soaked piece of cloth (A T-shirt cut into sixteenths works well for this part), and rub light to vigorously across the leather. You can feel the surface actually change, and become more tacky as you strip the polish and finish off the shoe. Be careful not to buff directly into the upper.
  • In a polish tin, mix approximately 50/50 isopropyl alcohol and water. Use another piece of T-shirt and roll a small dab of polish onto the rag. You may use a bit of the 50/50 mix as a thinner to cut through the petroleum based polish. I chose a carnuba based polish for this part. I recommend avoiding shoe creams which contain too much pigment and are more susceptible to cracking and excessive application.
  • Apply the polish in small circles. Try to add in layers, periodically blotting with a drop of the 50/50 mix until the polish "glazes". Repeat as necessary. Try to avoid large blotches of pigment.
  • Finish the project with a mirror glaze a la Sysdoc. JM Weston/Saphir is probably the best for this part, though I also use Lincoln or Bostonian Carnuba Wax (kiwi?) to the same effect. Make sure to replace the blotting contents in the tin with 100% water instead of your 50/50 mix to avoid stripping the wax off your mirror finish. Be careful not to use too much water--I usually wear nitrile or latex gloves for the finishing process and use droplets of water from my fingertips as I shine.

The black derbies required a bit of shoe conditioner (Nordie's Synovia cream). One full coat followed by a buffing. Finishing was identical to the above.
post #11 of 11
Nice, thanks.
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