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George Cleverley Russian Leather

Maverick972

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There are a few things I don't understand about the Russian leather:

1) The supply is limited. Whenever the topic is mentioned, George says he doesn't know how many more pairs of shoes could be made but that he knows the number is few. This was (3+) years ago. I don't doubt the limited supply, but is it really as scarce as we are made to believe?

2) I've had discussions with some knowledgeable members, and they believe that the Russian leather was never meant to be made into shoes because of its dryness in character. Thoughts?

FWIW, I don't have any bespoke shoes from Cleverley, and I know even less about the Russian leather, except for what I've seen at their trunk shows.
 

Eustace Tilley

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Originally Posted by Maverick972
There are a few things I don't understand about the Russian leather:

1) The supply is limited. Whenever the topic is mentioned, George says he doesn't know how many more pairs of shoes could be made but that he knows the number is few. This was (3+) years ago. I don't doubt the limited supply, but is it really as scarce as we are made to believe?

2) I've had discussions with some knowledgeable members, and they believe that the Russian leather was never meant to be made into shoes because of its dryness in character. Thoughts?

FWIW, I don't have any bespoke shoes from Cleverley, and I know even less about the Russian leather, except for what I've seen at their trunk shows.


I have these shoes from GJC (pics somewhere in the archive). My thoughts:

1. Its a fair point - I imagine the supply is plentiful as they continue to use these hides to make luggage and the like.
2. Not sure what the original purpose was for this leather, but my shoes have held up very well. Love'em and certainly no regrets.
 

Maverick972

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Originally Posted by Eustace Tilley
I have these shoes from GJC (pics somewhere in the archive). My thoughts:

1. Its a fair point - I imagine the supply is plentiful as they continue to use these hides to make luggage and the like.
2. Not sure what the original purpose was for this leather, but my shoes have held up very well. Love'em and certainly no regrets.

Eustace: 1) That's what I wanted to know -- how are they able (and willing) to make luggage with such precious leather? And these are big pieces, not scrap leather in making smaller accessories. 2) I've seen pictures of your shoes. They're mighty lovely!
 

Eustace Tilley

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Originally Posted by Maverick972
Eustace:

1) That's what I wanted to know -- how are they able (and willing) to make luggage with such precious leather? And these are big pieces, not scrap leather in making smaller accessories.

2) I've seen pictures of your shoes. They're mighty lovely!


1) Yup - that's what I was implying - that perhaps the supply isn't as limited as they publicize. The leather isn't particularly 'precious' either - its only a 150 GBP surcharge (relative to regular calfskin) to order these shoes

2) Thank you
 

meister

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From what I have read and seen over the years there must be tons of hides left...
 

entrero

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Quoted from:http://www.jarnaginco.com/leather%20...20original.htm " How do you protect your leather: The grain surface takes the most damage from the loss of moisture. The best way to protect it is to maintain a polish on the surface that will seal and protect the moisture in the leather fibers from drying. Specially formulated wax finish would be the best. There is a polish that uses a natural ingredient that helps stop the growth of mold and mildew even in damp environments. This ingredient also helps stop insect damage as well. This was known and used during the 1800's in a leather called "Russia leather". The problem is the knowledge was lost by the end of the 1800's. The product is known as Preservation Wax. You should apply the wax at least twice a year, and maybe more if the items are used heavily. When at least 50% of the original finish is present I would recommend the clear wax. When applying the finish on leather that is beginning to flake or crack there may be some flakes that come off during the application of the wax." edit more digging: "Russia leather is a type of vegetable tanned leather, but has very distinctive oils used during the currying process. This oil has an aromatic scent, and because of this the leather has certain properties. These properties include insect resistance and mold and mildew resistance. This type of leather was used in book bindings and hat sweat bands. This type of leather was embossed with a pattern in the grain surface of the leather, such as a diamond pattern as well as others. The leather is known for its distinctive red color, but was also dyed black. This leather is no longer tanned."
 

Maverick972

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Originally Posted by meister

From what I have read and seen over the years there must be tons of hides left...


Meister:

You mean available to use or under water?
 

DocHolliday

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Originally Posted by meister
From what I have read and seen over the years there must be tons of hides left...

I think it may be an issue of how many hides are easily available to the maker at the moment, sort of like whiskey shell. I don't think they've exhausted the supply in the ship itself, or they hadn't as of a few years ago.

Here's an article on it:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/lif...cle1040732.ece

I have a book on the stuff around here somewhere. I'll try to dig it out.
 

Concordia

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One of the issues is that the inventory is in the hold of a ship under water. There are only a few men licensed to go diving for it by the owner of the sea floor, and as they finish grabbing the easy stuff, it gets harder to harvest-- just as they're getting older.

Part of their licensing deal with the Duke of Cornwall (a/k/a Prince Charles) was that they don't charge a market price that a monopolist could get, but only a modest mark-up over calf skin.
 

edmorel

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Originally Posted by DocHolliday
I think it may be an issue of how many hides are easily available to the maker at the moment, sort of like whiskey shell. I don't think they've exhausted the supply in the ship itself, or they hadn't as of a few years ago.

Here's an article on it:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/lif...cle1040732.ece

I have a book on the stuff around here somewhere. I'll try to dig it out.


The bows of the wreck have been emptied and the divers have begun on the stern. No one knows how many remain but Snelson believes they have already had the lion's share.
that's a quote from the article. Which was written 7 years ago. About 11-12 years ago I first heard of this stuff, on watch sites where guys where selling straps and briefcases made from this stuff.

As for whiskey shell, you can get it anytime you want from certain shoemakers, there is no limited supply.
 

edmorel

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Eustace Tilley

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To distill it down, the real appeal of this leather is in the story. I am very honest about that. Sure, it looks good, has a great smell blah blah blah. But ultimately, I wouldn't have forked over 1,700 GBP for a pair if it weren't for the back story.

If you find my rationale foolish, you'd do best to stick with regular calfskin. It'll probably last longer.
 

bengal-stripe

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Originally Posted by DocHolliday
I think it may be an issue of how many hides are easily available to the maker at the moment...........

As far as I know, members of the original diving team, who had discovered the wreck back in 1973, have been diving down every summer to get out another batch of hides.

Maybe three or five years ago, the surviving members decided they were getting too old and the diving was becoming too dangerous and they would stop their dives, despite the fact that significant quantities of hides are still down there.

Whether or not this is the end for more Metta Catherina leather, only time will tell. Maybe another diving team will assemble in a few years time and they get permission from whoever (Prince of Wales?). And they'll get out more hides.....and more........and more.

It's all a bit like feeding the multitude, the miracle of the loaves and the fishes.
 

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