I thought the same thing. One possible reason comes to mind, however. It is a whole cut and if the last were very distorted due to bespoke build-ups the maker might be worried about centering the medallions. This approach would solve that problem. If he's placed a piece of leather under the vamp in place of a toe stiffener he can punch into it, pull it and replace with a backing and a proper toe stiffener. No harm, no foul.