Horsehide vs. Shell Cordovan? ...

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by cmeisenzahl, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. cmeisenzahl

    cmeisenzahl Senior member

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    I understand what shell is and the very specific area of the horse it comes from. But once in a while I encounter some vintage print ad describing "horsehide" boots. Are these shell? Or just traditional leather from elsewhere on the horse?

    If it's just traditional leather from elsewhere on a horse, does anyone use that any more? How did it hold up compared to cow leather or shell?

    Thanks!

    Chris
     


  2. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    “Horsehide” or “Horse front” is the leather from the forepart of the horse. It’s quite a traditional material for bomber- and biker jackets.

    http://www.aeroleatherclothing.com/p...tail.php?id=18

    Quite a hard and fibrous leather with inferior drape, it is considered a poor material for footwear
    (if I recall correctly, it tends to split where it bends across the vamp).

    I suppose, DWF can give more information.
     


  3. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    Not necessarily a "poor material for footwear." Horsehide is an excellent material for rugged work boots and such. It is not well suited to sleek, elegant shoes, however.
     


  4. SpooPoker

    SpooPoker Internet Bigtimer and Most Popular Man on Campus Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    Id really love to hear DFWII on this.
     


  5. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Senior member

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    Are the boots made with real welt or does it have gemming? (or is that gumming?)
     


  6. daruma

    daruma Senior member

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    Interested as well...
     


  7. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Once upon a time horsehide was used in the States a lot more than it is now. I have seen muleskin boots that were sixty years old, worn hard and put up wet, and never a crack. The owner claimed they simply would not scuff. [​IMG] The old time Buster Browns...for those of you old enough to remember...had horsehide toe patches to prevent scuffs. Horse fronts are used regularly for linings in Europe and the US..especially in the Orthopedic Trade. As Bengal Stripe mentioned, it was used extensively for aviator (Bomber) jackets. That alone would suggest a flexibility that belies any worries about cracking. All the horse fronts I have seen were soft and had a reasonably good "hand" (drape). In fact, in my opinion, one of the reasons horse fronts are not used for footwear is that chrome tannages tend to be too soft and stretchy. The veg tannages I've seen tend to be dense...I like them for welting. I suspect the biggest reason horse and mule (probably indistinguishable for all intents and purposes) fell out of favour is the reverence in which Americans view the horse. [​IMG]We don't eat horse either despite having been told by greater culinary experts than ourselves how delicious it is.
     


  8. scurvyfreedman

    scurvyfreedman Senior member

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    Baseball covers were made from horsehide through the mid-70s. Then they switched to cowhide.
     


  9. BlueHorseShoe

    BlueHorseShoe Senior member

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    [​IMG]We don't eat horse either despite having been told by greater culinary experts than ourselves how delicious it is.

    We just prefer to turn them into glue and then have toddlers eat them in that form.
     


  10. Pantisocrat

    Pantisocrat Senior member

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    shell cordovan vs. patent leather...which came before? I've always thought that glossy leather used for dress shoes was originally made from specific animals before patenting leather was invented.
     


  11. Pantisocrat

    Pantisocrat Senior member

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    Baseball covers were made from horsehide through the mid-70s. Then they switched to cowhide.
    It's quite difficult to find a pigskin football these days too. I'm curious what material basket ball and soccer ball used to be made from
     


  12. NHorween

    NHorween Active Member

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    One of the major limitations in using horsehide for shoe uppers is weight. Horse fronts (FQHH) are naturally around 2 - 3.5 oz (0.8 - 1.4mm), with the heavier end being less common. That said, there are a handful of companies using horse front for footwear, and Thorogood makes a boot using "strips," which is the are between the front and the shell. Fratelli Rosetti made some horsefront shoes some time back - they were quite dressy.

    Softness/stretchiness of most areas of horsehide is just as much a function of the whole process as the base tannage. As a general statement, chrome tannages do yield softer leathers, but retanning and drying methods can yield round, veg-like leathers.

    Horsehide does have a different grain appearance, tends to be more abrasion resistant than cowhide, and has a lot more "natural character" (meaning horses live longer than cows so their hides tend to show us that).
     


  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    One of the major limitations in using horsehide for shoe uppers is weight. Horse fronts (FQHH) are naturally around 2 - 3.5 oz (0.8 - 1.4mm), with the heavier end being less common. That said, there are a handful of companies using horse front for footwear, and Thorogood makes a boot using "strips," which is the are between the front and the shell. Fratelli Rosetti made some horsefront shoes some time back - they were quite dressy. Softness/stretchiness of most areas of horsehide is just as much a function of the whole process as the base tannage. As a general statement, chrome tannages do yield softer leathers, but retanning and drying methods can yield round, veg-like leathers. Horsehide does have a different grain appearance, tends to be more abrasion resistant than cowhide, and has a lot more "natural character" (meaning horses live longer than cows so their hides tend to show us that).
    Thank you! If I might...is Horween offering a retanned horsefront suitable for dress shoes? I, for one, would be interested....
     


  14. NHorween

    NHorween Active Member

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    Thank you!

    If I might...is Horween offering a retanned horsefront suitable for dress shoes? I, for one, would be interested....


    It might depend on the definition of dress, but we have a handful of nice options.
     


  15. Fishball

    Fishball Senior member

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    Hi Nick,
    I just bought few pcs of Color 8 shell cordovan. One of them have a 1.5 inch long, almost 1 mm deep scar on it. Did your company grade the shell? Should the retailer sell that like grade I leather?
     


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