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Shoes of ancient russian leather (mostly reindeer)

jerrysfriend

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Anyone have a pair of the shoes that this story mentions, as follows: "In 1786, the Danish ship Catherina von Flensburg sank off the coast of Cornwall, and its cargo of Russian leather went to the bottom of Plymouth Sound. Two hundred years later, the wreck was found--along with the hides, largely undamaged by two centuries underwater. Connoisseurs went on high alert: Russian leather is famous for its distinctive aroma and durability (due to soakings in flour, yeast, wood liquor, and seal and birch oils), but production of the real thing disappeared with the Tsars. Now, thanks to British cobblers Poulsen Skone, you can own shoes cut from 200-year-old reindeer hide salvaged from a shipwrecked Danish brigantine. Talk about your conversation starter. Cap-toe lace-ups, $1,500, by Poulsen Skone, at Dunhill, New York and Chicago; (800) 776-4053." New and Lingwood used to have the "Poulsen Skone" line, previously made by EG, and more recently, by Grenson. Now New and Lingwood seems to call their top of the line shoes "St. James," but they are still made by Grenson. New and Lingwood has a little more detail in its story about these Russian leather (mostly reindeer) shoes. See: http://www.newandlingwood.com/information.phtml I guess that it will be too much to hope that Bennie's will get some. I understand that both Cleverley and John Lobb of St. James obtained some of these hides too. If anyone has bought any, please post pictures. I understand that Prince Charles got a pair, but he has yet to join the forum.
 

hermes

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there was a short article on this in a recent issue of british esquire i believe, with the statement that there was only enough leather to make a few hundred pairs of shoes (i may have the number wrong) and when those orders were filled, that was it, never to be manufacturered again
 

faustian bargain

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that tears it: bring back the Tsars.
 

jcusey

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I've seen the N&L-labelled shoes (almost certainly made by Crockett & Jones) at Dunhill in New York, and I've seen sample Cleverley bespoke shoes made from Russia calf. The Cleverley shoes are made from a higher quality of hide and are much more attractive than the N&L shoes. They're also a much better bargain (ed.: relatively speaking, of course): the price quoted to me for a pair of fully bespoke Cleverley Russia calf shoes was £1600, which is about an 18.5% premium over regular box calf. The N&L shoes are more like a 300% premium over regular box calf shoes of comparable quality. According to George Glasgow from Cleverley, the hides are still being salvaged and Cleverley has the right of first refusal on them. Russia calf can make some beautiful shoes. At some point, I'm thinking of doing a chasse similar to the EG Dover in it.
 

jester

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I have a pair of bespoke shoes from Cleverley in the Russian reindeer hide. They are extremely beautiful. They don't have a highly polished look. They're also very stiff, more like cordovan than calf, and this is fine with me because I don't want them to wear out before I can have grandchildren who can pass the shoes along to their grandchildren.

Personally I think you'd have to be crazy to spend $1,500 for off-the-rack shoes in this leather. At Cleverley it's only a small premium once you're getting bespoke shoes--an extra £100 or so. And of course you'd have to be crazy to spend the money on bespoke shoes, too, but once you do, the extra cost of the Russian reindeer is trivial. But the leather isn't worth paying $1,500 for off-the-rack shoes.

It's certainly cool to be wearing shoes made of 200-year-old leather.
 

T4phage

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Originally posted by jester:
I have a pair of bespoke shoes from Cleverley in the Russian reindeer hide. They are extremely beautiful. They don't have a highly polished look. They're also very stiff, more like cordovan than calf.....
The ones I saw at Cleverley's were polished very very nicely, and I don't recall them being stiff at all. How are you taking care of yours?
 

jester

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Originally posted by jester:
Quote:
I have a pair of bespoke shoes from Cleverley in the Russian reindeer hide. They are extremely beautiful. They don't have a highly polished look. They're also very stiff, more like cordovan than calf.....
The ones I saw at Cleverley's were polished very very nicely, and I don't recall them being stiff at all. How are you taking care of yours?
Not in any especially unusual way--Carr & Day & Martin wax shoe polish regularly, neutral shoe cream once in a while, shoe trees. They're not dull, mind you, just not mirror-like. And they're not uncomfortably stiff, it's just a heavier leather. BTW this is not just my characterization; George Glasgow at Cleverley describes them similarly.
 

T4phage

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Originally posted by jester:
Not in any especially unusual way--Carr & Day & Martin wax shoe polish regularly, neutral shoe cream once in a while, shoe trees. They're not dull, mind you, just not mirror-like. And they're not uncomfortably stiff, it's just a heavier leather.
As I don't own any I can't characterize the care process. When you bought yours at Cleverley did they give you any special instructions on care? I know that for exotic leathers you need specific cremes.
 

jester

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As I don't own any I can't characterize the care process. When you bought yours at Cleverley did they give you any special instructions on care? I know that for exotic leathers you need specific cremes.
No, they were quite casual about the care--they didn't think they need any particularly special treatment.
 

emsny

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I have a key ring with a leather tab made of this leather (from Cleverley); when it was new, it had the most wonderful aroma. No longer. alas, but it is lovely to know that one has a bit of the eighteenth century in one's hip pocket.
 

jcusey

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I have a pair of bespoke shoes from Cleverley in the Russian reindeer hide.
What style are your shoes? I'm giving some serious consideration to a pair of Dover-style split-toe bluchers in that leather.
 

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