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Cowboy boots

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mram65, Mar 6, 2002.

  1. Swan Song

    Swan Song Well-Known Member

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    Ray,

    While I am sure they're out there somewhere, and I am by no means an expert on the history of cowboy boot design, I can say this:



    That one you posted is my first leather double sole on a working cowboy boot. I've seen a composite sole added for comfort over a stock leather sole, though.

    I don't know how authentic they are, I've never seen double soled boots in old bootmaker catalogues but I guess they could have been an option.I have a copy of an old Blucher Boot catalogue and do not see a double sole offered even as an option. Their company extends back to about 1915 and even further for their designs.

    sample page

    [​IMG]


    I love hand tooling of just about anything.

    Thanks for posting a picture. I would hope it was done by hand, but anything done by the Lucchese people now is always suspect in my book till proven otherwise. I have a feeling any of their really nice custom hand tooling is done in Mexico, and shipped to El Paso for attachment to the bottoms. Stock stuff would be done by machine. A human would have worked the edges and they would not be sharp.


    I love the classic toe design.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2012
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Boots in the old catalogues were intended to be ridden deep in an oxbow type stirrup. The stirrup was under the arch of the foot and generally snug against the breast of the heel. A double sole would not have affected the way they felt in the stirrup.

    It's been a lot of years since there was a decent bootmaker at Luchesse with roots in the western traditions. The Luchesse in the photo is either mis-lasted or improperly bottomed.

    Every last is set for a specific heel height. If you're going to put a double sole on the front of the boot you have to raise the heel stack a similar amount. If you don't, the boot will lean back, the foot will not be supported as it should be and the boot will never properly cup the heel correctly. Nor will the boot ever "walk" smoothly or correctly.

    Some "aspects" of contemporary boots are fundamentally marketing hype. There is no functional reason for them. The instep "saddle" discussed in a previous post is just another of these--and something you won't see in old catalogues, either.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2012
  3. Svenn

    Svenn Well-Known Member

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    Are you referring to that property cobblers have shown me before where if you put a shoe on a table, press down on the heel from above, the front of the sole should cantilever above the table about a centimeter? Is that the way to get 'roll' in a stiff leather shoe with large heel?
     
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    No, I consider that bogus. The maker usually will set the heel while the last is still in the boot. Done like that, the heel will almost always set level with the forepart at the treadline.

    Sometimes when the last is pulled, esp. if the materials used aren't of the best quality, or the shank is improperly bent, the forepart will spring up a little. This makes the boot seem high at the breast of the heel. But in fact it probably isn't. Cobblers (not makers) who try to grind the heel down don't know what they are doing.

    The roll that is inherent (and desirable) in a cowboy boot during walking is a function of the cut of the heel and the toe spring. Too square a stack on a higher heel will always result in a "clumping" feeling and sound.
     
  5. OCULUS

    OCULUS Well-Known Member

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    DWFIi, I don't know anything more about them than I said in my original post, but based on that, (and my long-time dealing with the store owner) I would also say that you contradict yourself in your first line. Nobody said these were meant to be historical cowboy boots; ergo the "were ridden deep in stirrup" reference is a past-tense non-sequitor. I was told they provide more stiffness and less downward bend for (today's) riders, and that's why they were designed that way. And FYI, this merchant also stocks JB Hills and Stallions; his low-line is Liberty.

    As for their being misfits or miss-lasted, you are simply wrong. This configuration and heel are the way they were designed by the store owner, in cooperation with Lucchese--both in the original stock model and in my second-round custom order; they walk just fine and provide me very ample, flat support on barstools. :cheers:

    Thanks anyway.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    I've been making boots for over forty years. I've been aware of Luccheses all of that time and know their history and their processes.

    I also know lasts and boots in a way that no store owner possibly could.

    I don't care what you were told, the boots in the photo are leaning back and there is only two reasons that could possibly be.

    Sam Lucchese would be embarrassed and Cosimo would change his name.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  7. OCULUS

    OCULUS Well-Known Member

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    As long as we are talking about boot geometry and heel and sole height, this would be an appropriate place to show a pair that I just got back from Falconhead/Tres Outlaws. I bought them (barely) used on ePrey with high, underslung heels and matching rather stout soles. First, I had new heel caps put on them, trying to stabilize them, but the surface of the heel though now flat, was still tiny. So I sent them out west and asked if they could knock the heel down a bit--just one layer maybe--but give me some more contact patch on the ground so that I wasn't risking turning my ankle all the time.

    They did a fine job on them, and they are much more usable and stable, and remain comfortable. I expected that they might rock back a bit, especially considering their thick sole, but they are not noticeably changed in foot ergonomics--and whatever, they are now much safer to wear. They are custom Austin Hall, a brand I don't know, but have heard good things about; I think they went under in the 80s/90s. Anyone know details? Good looking boots and look pretty snappy with a turquoise belt buckle. :slayer:


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Svenn

    Svenn Well-Known Member

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    Could you explain what you mean by too square? My shoemaker made me a boot recently that I wanted to be cowboy-ish, and it has a large thick spanish-looking heel (I could send you pics). We ended up making the heel very wide for stability so I wouldn't feel as tippy, or like I was wearing high heels... we also raised the front of the sole by making it thick and having an insert inside as well, both of which made my foot more naturally horizontal, than slanted a big angle as in normal cowboy boots. It's still a bit clumpy-feeling to walk in though. Were the tricks we used common methods of improving the ergonomics of cowboy boots?
     
  9. CrAz3D

    CrAz3D Well-Known Member

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    Where I'm from, cowboy boots are often referred to as shit kickers. I've kicked shit in all mine. Yall?
     
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Not undercut enough. the back edge of the heels strikes too soon in the gait and the result is "jerky."
     
  11. Svenn

    Svenn Well-Known Member

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    ^Ah, very interesting... so the slant in the back there (cuban heel) actually facilitates stepping and stability? I always thought it was decorative and a bit UNstable. What's the ideal amount of undercut from pure vertical (i.e. how many cm's forward should it slant)?
     
  12. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    A "cuban heel" is actually concave...as is a "military heel. The sides of a heel on a classic cowboy boot should be flat. Dead, ruler straight, flat. This is not to say that the heel is straight up and down, only that the "faces" of the heel be flat.

    There is no set amount of undercut as long as there is substance directly under the ankle bones such that the weight of the body being transmitted down the leg is supported. Some of it is aesthetics. Some if it is mechanics. I've seen and made (and worn) boots with two and a quarter inch heels that tapered to toplifts no larger than a half dollar ( and even smaller) with no problems. The lower the heel the less undercut is needed.

    Also, if you think about it, the higher the heel the more substance--theoretically, traditionally, stacks of leather, rather than contemporary plastic or pressed paper--which means that a blockier heel will weigh more. That too contributes to a clunky gait.

    The real "no, no" on cowboy boots (and I'd get an argument from some makers, I'm sure) is to slant the breast of the heel. Makers do this because it looks "rakish" and different but doing it that way does create an unstable heel which will break down in the breast simply because layers closer to the ground have no support.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012
  13. Swan Song

    Swan Song Well-Known Member

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    DWFII,

    Thanks for your contributions.

    If you have pictures of some of the boots you have made, and it would not compromise the owners of the boots, please post some pictures. This thread may only appeal to a handful of people, but I would sure like to see them.
     
  14. Swan Song

    Swan Song Well-Known Member

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    I like this color combo, very 1950's color scheme.
     
  15. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Alright...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Continued...see previous post #315...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And one more from before I had a good camera...with a hand cut and hand beveled six part round braid of four (?) passes on the top edge (each strand was roughly 3/32" wide)

    [​IMG]
    --
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2012
  17. Swan Song

    Swan Song Well-Known Member

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    Wow, love the hummingbird motif.

    Can you explain the bootmaker jargan to a novice? I assume you are talking about the stitching.






    And,


    That's an elegant and beautiful Willie Lusk-esque flame stitch-pattern on two of those boot tops. Intentional? or coincidence? If you have seen my posts, I really like Evelyn Green's stitching for Willie Lusk back in the day.
     
  18. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Well, I think so--I've been taking on students for over 25 years. And I have written three books on making boots and am the webmaster of The Crispin Colloquy.

    What jargon/words do you have in mind?


    Thank you! I won't say it was intentional because I have intentionally tried never to copy another man's patterns. But there really is nothing new under the sun (the Greek key motif, for instance) and I probably saw something similar on an old boot somewhere along the line and it just sat inside my brain percolating and morphing until one day I sat down and designed the pattern you see. We call it "Prairie Fire."

    I am one of the few makers in the US who makes the old style two piece "Full Wellington" boot out of real boot leather...not some soft old garment leather. In fact, one of my books is devoted to the style. So I have seen and handled lots of old boots and I make some styles that have the look and feel of boots that were common in the last quarter of the 19th century. the boots just above the Hummingbirds are pretty historically correct. they are full pegged and have the old coffin toe and the military heel as was common in that time period.

    The humminbirds are a three piece style--with a backseam like the old Napoleon/Hussar style boots. This kind of Pee-wee was wildly popular in the nineteen-thirties and forties, however. Lucchese made a whole series of them in honor of the 48 states. They had a representation of state capitals buildings inlaid in them.

    PS...for those who don't know...click on the photos and see them considerably larger.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012
  19. Greg613

    Greg613 Well-Known Member

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    Are there any resources to help identify the maker of a particular boot? I have a pair that the only markings are a series of 8 numbers in the shaft. I know with shoes a lot of times you can tell by the nail pattern.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. OCULUS

    OCULUS Well-Known Member

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    Like those elephants with maroon tops; very handsome. What color would you call the elephant? Also like the wispy stitch pattern; very elegant.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012

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