or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Leather Quality and Properties
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Leather Quality and Properties - Page 14

post #196 of 1313
Quote:
Originally Posted by JermynStreet View Post

Awesome info. Thank you, DWF.

You're welcome.

I know I've probably told this story before but Waxed Calf was, by some accounts, the leather for mens boots during the 18th and 19th century. Full wellingtons really came into their own in the 19th century and were often made of waxed calf both in the states and in Europe (Britain, mostly). During that period of time, shoe making was actually divided into two branches--those who made mens shoes and the lady's men.

Making shoes with the waxed calf was terribly dirty--the lamp black (soot) got over everything and especially into the skin of the maker.

Women's shoes were often made of high end fabric and couldn't be exposed to any process or material that might possibly stain the shoes.

When a gentleman had a pair of boots made from waxed calf they came to him with a high shine.This resulted from the burnishing of the wheat paste on the surface of the leather. The shine was every bit as mirror like as a really good spit shine. I've seen historical boots treated like this...actual antiques that still retained that gloss.

When the owner was done with them at the end of a day, he would leave them outside his bedroom door and someone from "downstairs" (a footman?) would re-burnish them overnight. To do that a full tree--toe to calf--was needed.

Following an old 19th century receipt (recipe) I tried making some waxed calf. Going into it I knew that my chances of success were limited--no access to best quality East India Kip (meaning a coarser fiber mat on the fleshside), no chance to store the stuffed hide in a warm attic, no full tree, and no lampblack. Nevertheless I got pretty close ( I know this because I had some vintage waxed calf to compare to).

Here's a photo of a pair of boots that would have been in vogue about 1880. The bottom is my own waxed calf (nowhere near the shine I should have/could have achieved but what the customer wanted). The top is the same leather turned grainside out. (I think you can click to see a larger version). Full pegged outsole.



--
Edited by DWFII - 7/31/13 at 5:16am
post #197 of 1313
What's a good method to condition leather insoles? Wiping insole with Lexol conditioner? Or the dense and sweat soaked insole requires something different than uppers?
post #198 of 1313
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

I don't know the answer to your question but two remarks...

First, suede is leather. You may know that but far too many people never do get that straight in their minds. "Leather" in the sense your question implies is nothing but the same hide turned grainside out.

Second, the best "suede" is actually the fleshside of a full grain hide turned fleshside out..

People have been using the fleshside of leather for a long time. I don't know the exact origins although I doubt it is earlier than the late 17th century, but the original "Waxed calf' was done on very specific East (?) India vegetable tanned Kips. The flesh side of the leather was stuffed with a "hot" mixture of lanolin, whale/cod oil and bees wax--literally until it would hold no more. Then the leather was stored...usually somewhere gently warm...for up to a year.

The fleshside of the leather was then "scrubbed" with a soap not too dissimilar to Fels Naptha so that the surplus surface "wax" would be broken/removed. The soap was mixed with lamp black, if I recall correctly, which effectively dyed the leather.

Then, after the boots/shoes were cut and assembled...fleshside out...a "sizing" (?) of something very like wallpaper paste was applied and the surface burnished to a brilliant high shine.

From Master Al Saguto head of the shoemaking Faculty at Colonial Williamsburg and translator/editor of English version of M.De Garsault's 1767 Art du cordonnier (and a close friend of mine):
The upshot is although this was not "suede" as we think of it, it was the fleshide of the hide and it was considered more durable than full grain calf used grainside out..

I have a pair of riding boots made inside out like this. I was always told boots made this way lasted best, if they were scratched by a collision with a gate post or anything like the damage can be boned out fairly easily. They are harder to get a really good shine on in day to day use, but seem very hard wearing, certainly my pair are likely older than me and in good order still

Charlie
post #199 of 1313
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

What's a good method to condition leather insoles? Wiping insole with Lexol conditioner?

That will work. Or Bick4. Do it fairly regularly.
post #200 of 1313

Would the appearance of extensive repairs and patching have been the norm for shoes in the past, say before the well-documented advent of disposable shoes, and decline of cobblers? Would it have been so accepted that even the wealthy would do it? Like replacing a carriage wheel when it broke, rather than throwing away the entire carriage? Would it have been restricted to those who could not afford to replace shoes when they were still reparable? In the modern world, what would be more cost effective- repeatedly repairing expensive shoes, or replacing them when they become worn?

 

In the past, would common people routinely take their shoes to cobblers for all repairs, or would home repairs be typical, with the cobbler brought in when the job required more expertise and equipment than a guy was likely to have at home or at the workplace? I imagine most men were handier when most jobs involved some sort of manual labor. 

 

Today repeated repair assumes availability of cobblers capable of doing the work, and making estimates of what such people would charge. I realize that Lobb may do this for the Prince for the advertising value, or for reasons that would make sense to people in the UK if not to me, but might tell a random customer that the shoes were beyond repair.

 

DWF- fascinating as always. I can see the disadvantages of the lampblack, but it would seem that grain side in would remain a good way to make footwear, particularly if they will be exposed to water and abrasion. Why did you need to make it yourself? There are contemporary shoes made of what the manufacturers call waxed calf. Is this something altogether different? Or is the leather prepared the same way, but the shoes assembled conventionally with the grain side out? 


Edited by dbhdnhdbh - 7/31/13 at 6:58am
post #201 of 1313

I have a pair of brown brogues which look like this (this is not a photo of them, the photo was posted a few weeks ago by Immagge).

 

 

Mine are made of very soft leather which is unevenly coloured and they do not have a shine of any sort. The leather is not particularly thick. They take both cream and wax well and are gradually developing a more even colour.  Because they are so soft and because they have a built in arch support, they are very comfortable. They were not expensive (c £110)

 

My question is, what sort of leather are they made of?  There has been a lot of talk on here about corrected leather but these don't seem to fit this category. Nor, obviously, are they very good quality leather. Any suggestions would be welcome.

post #202 of 1313
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhdnhdbh View Post

DWF- fascinating as always. I can see the disadvantages of the lampblack, but it would seem that grain side in would remain a good way to make footwear, particularly if they will be exposed to water and abrasion. Why did you need to make it yourself? There are contemporary shoes made of what the manufacturers call waxed calf. Is this something altogether different? Or is the leather prepared the same way, but the shoes assembled conventionally with the grain side out? 

I know of no one who is producing classic "waxed calf". This was a very specific material/process as outline above...very well regarded and widely duplicated in the 18th and 19th centuries.. It is/was a singular product...as opposed to any calf that is waxed. In the latter the term "waxed calf" is descriptive rather than identifying.

The last person who produced real Waxed Calf (maybe we need to capitalize the term to create the distinction) was Dennis Kellet in the UK. He folded up several years ago due to age.

Any "waxed calf" being sold today is fundamentally a marketing pitch...just as "bullhide" is. Just as "mulehide" is. Horween makes a leather--ChromeXcel--that is supposed to replicate waxed calf but it is really a far cry from the original process and the "wax" is actually a solvent based lacquer rather than anything close to the original recipe.

As to why I made my own...I wanted to see if it could be done on some very nice veg tan that I had access to, right here in the States. AFAIK, Kellet didn't have access to Best East India Kips, either. I always thought his stuff was a little stiff.

--
Edited by DWFII - 7/31/13 at 7:23am
post #203 of 1313
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhdnhdbh View Post

Would the appearance of extensive repairs and patching have been the norm for shoes in the past, say before the well-documented advent of disposable shoes, and decline of cobblers? Would it have been so accepted that even the wealthy would do it? Like replacing a carriage wheel when it broke, rather than throwing away the entire carriage? Would it have been restricted to those who could not afford to replace shoes when they were still reparable? In the modern world, what would be more cost effective- repeatedly repairing expensive shoes, or replacing them when they become worn?

In the past, would common people routinely take their shoes to cobblers for all repairs, or would home repairs be typical, with the cobbler brought in when the job required more expertise and equipment than a guy was likely to have at home or at the workplace? I imagine most men were handier when most jobs involved some sort of manual labor. 

Today repeated repair assumes availability of cobblers capable of doing the work, and making estimates of what such people would charge. I realize that Lobb may do this for the Prince for the advertising value, or for reasons that would make sense to people in the UK if not to me, but might tell a random customer that the shoes were beyond repair.

DWF- fascinating as always. I can see the disadvantages of the lampblack, but it would seem that grain side in would remain a good way to make footwear, particularly if they will be exposed to water and abrasion. Why did you need to make it yourself? There are contemporary shoes made of what the manufacturers call waxed calf. Is this something altogether different? Or is the leather prepared the same way, but the shoes assembled conventionally with the grain side out? 

Sewing a patch of leather onto a shoe is no different from sewing a patch of wool onto a hole in a suit. It might be a practical and cheap solution for a field worker, but it is not appropriate for city dress.
post #204 of 1313

Sorry, some typos in my message.

post #205 of 1313
DWF, what is the purpose of pegging soles? Does this actually hold the sole onto the welt/upper in the closely trimmed areas, or is it more of a decorative thing? I do notice on my St. Crispins they wood peg the arch areas of the sole and the stitching that holds the sole to the welt terminates just after the ball area of the foot.
post #206 of 1313
Quote:
Sewing a patch of leather onto a shoe is no different from sewing a patch of wool onto a hole in a suit. It might be a practical and cheap solution for a field worker, but it is not appropriate for city dress.

Well, not for me. I can make minor repairs on a suit. Things like attaching buttons, closing open seams or stitching a tear back in place are pretty simple, and anyone can do it. I would not attempt reweaving. Would I sew a patch over a hole? I have certainly done that for casual clothing, but for a suit, there would be problems of finding a piece of cloth that would match well enough, the right thread, the right tension (wool suits tend to be softer cloth than, say, jeans). I could see making things worse rather than better. Plus, finding people who can do those repairs is easy. I don't think I would try that myself on the wool part of a suit. I have done linings, but mistakes there don't damage the suit.

 

For a shoe, sewing leather does not seem to be so simple. I would worry about tearing the leather, about how well the patch matched the rest of the shoe, not so much in appearance, but I would worry that a scrap that was too stiff or too soft would damage the area I was trying to repair. I imagine it creating new tensions as I walked, and causing the surrounding leather to deteriorate rapidly. Depending on where it was on the shoe, it might be difficult to get access to the inside to do the sewing right. Plus, I would have to go through the lining, which would tack it to the outer portion of the shoe in a way not intended. Patching without attaching the lining to the outer might require taking the shoe apart, patching, and then putting it back together. It sounds like it would necessitate detaching the upper from the insole and the insole from the welt, then reversing the process. I am sure I don't know how to do that.

 

As for whether a patch job done by a good cobbler is appropriate for city wear, all I can say it this. I have never been to Court at Buckingham Palace, and I have never considered holding myself to the standards of dress of the Prince of Wales. Apparently this particular Prince, whom I gather is considered to be very well dressed, can wear patched shoes in public. If such shoes are good enough for him then they are far beyond good enough for me. I am rarely mistaken for royalty.

 

I am just not sure the cost of the work would be worth it when my shoes start out so cheap. If I can get a "new" pair of used shoes for $50-75, max, then what would I be willing to pay for a repair? I don't like throwing usable things away, so I might pay as much or more for a repair. At some point, however, the cost stops making sense. 

 

The replace vs repair calculus might be very different for bespoke Lobbs.

 

I don't notice other people's shoes enough to know how often they show visible repairs. I did not even know what people were talking about in the images of HRH's shoes. So I don't have any opinion about how common it is in the city where I live in the US, and let alone in England. Perhaps the cobblers on SF can chime in. 

post #207 of 1313
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhdnhdbh View Post

If such shoes are good enough for him then they are far beyond good enough for me.

Which brings us back to my original comment:
Quote:
Originally Posted by archetypal_yuppie View Post

Don't admire it just because a prince is doing it.

Regarding...
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhdnhdbh View Post

The replace vs repair calculus might be very different for bespoke Lobbs.
The repair/replace calculus is moot for the prince.

You seem to be hoping that someone will say patching leather shoes is time-honored tradition worthy of kings. It strikes my as sycophantic adulation of the royal.

If you want to wear worn out, beat up, semi-destroyed things, have at it. But I'm going to call you out on being badly dressed.
Edited by archetypal_yuppie - 7/31/13 at 1:00pm
post #208 of 1313
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

I know of no one who is producing classic "waxed calf"......The last person who produced real Waxed Calf (maybe we need to capitalize the term to create the distinction) was Dennis Kellet in the UK. He folded up several years ago due to age.

I do not know which tannery (or finisher) supplies 'Wax Calf' (it might not even be an English supplier any more), but “Wax Calf” (reversed cow hide) is very much alive and well in England, after all it is the material for the boots of the household cavalry:



The leather for the Household Cavalry boots is enormously thick (maybe 3 mm, 1/8”). I believe (but I can be wrong) Rudolf Schnieder holds the current contract. Previously it was Tony Slinger (Wetherby) and before that Edward Green.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Equus Leather View Post

I have a pair of riding boots made inside out like this. I was always told boots made this way lasted best, if they were scratched by a collision with a gate post or anything like the damage can be boned out fairly easily.

As Charlie has pointed out, it also the classic leather for English hunting boots. The (box calf) full grain leather is used for show-jumping and dressage boots, while the flesh-side out boots are used for the rough and tumble of the hunt. Riding with hounds through brambles and gorse, chasing after some live (and unpredictable) fox, wreaks havoc on fine boots with the leather is used grain-side out. Hence the need for a material where scratches can be polished out.

Any maker of classic English riding boots will work in wax calf:


http://www.schniederboots.com/

http://foster.co.uk/our-products/bespoke-services/hunting-field-boots/black-waxed-calf-hunting-boot/

http://horacebatten.com/boots/wax_calf_riding_boot

http://www.johnlobbltd.co.uk/catalogue/fullsize_images/Website_shoes_boots/Website_boots/Ridingbootswithtops/waxcalf_ridingboot.htm
post #209 of 1313
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post

I do not know which tannery (or finisher) supplies 'Wax Calf' (it might not even be an English supplier any more), but “Wax Calf” (reversed cow hide) is very much alive and well in England, after all it is the material for the boots of the household cavalry:



The leather for the Household Cavalry boots is enormously thick (maybe 3 mm, 1/8”). I believe (but I can be wrong) Rudolf Schnieder holds the current contract. Previously it was Tony Slinger (Wetherby) and before that Edward Green.
As Charlie has pointed out, it also the classic leather for English hunting boots. The (box calf) full grain leather is used for show-jumping and dressage boots, while the flesh-side out boots are used for the rough and tumble of the hunt. Riding with hounds through brambles and gorse, chasing after some live (and unpredictable) fox, wreaks havoc on fine boots with the leather is used grain-side out. Hence the need for a material where scratches can be polished out.

Any maker of classic English riding boots will work in wax calf:


http://www.schniederboots.com/

http://foster.co.uk/our-products/bespoke-services/hunting-field-boots/black-waxed-calf-hunting-boot/

http://horacebatten.com/boots/wax_calf_riding_boot

http://www.johnlobbltd.co.uk/catalogue/fullsize_images/Website_shoes_boots/Website_boots/Ridingbootswithtops/waxcalf_ridingboot.htm

Hunting foxes with hounds has been illegal in the UK for a number of years
post #210 of 1313
Quote:
Originally Posted by OzzyJones View Post

Hunting foxes with hounds has been illegal in the UK for a number of years

You are right, I did mention it initially, but then it became a victim of editing. Fox hunts have been replaced by drag hunts which are probably not as unpredictable as hunting a living animal.

Hunting foxes with hounds is still legal in Northern Ireland.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Classic Menswear
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Leather Quality and Properties