Originally Posted by swiego
Thank you for the reply, which I missed. It is interesting that you have noticed and confirm this behavior. Do you think the difference is due to the skin itself, or to preparation differences? Do you have any thoughts on how to identify more vs. less-water resistant shell? I think we could benefit from more discussion on the factors which impact shell cordovan water resistance, and I am a bit concerned that we all acknowledge that shell can behave this way yet no one seems to know why.
I agree that it's a mystery. Shell cordovans are relatively expensive and part of the cost is justified, in the mind of the buyer, by the idea that they will prove durable for many years. Not being able to judge performance is a bit like knowing that one BMW 330i will go 200,000 miles without much mechanical trouble while another will break down frequently and rust after a year, and nobody can say why, you just have to buy it and then find out.
I've posted to this effect before, that some of my shells are completely impervious to water, even walking hours in a downpour, while others develop darkened spots, permanently, just from walking a few minutes through damp grass.
On balance, the older the shell, the more it resists the effects of water. That's my experience anyway, and it's hard to imagine that nothing has changed in the tannage. Nick H? Any expert insight into this would be much appreciated.