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eTrojan

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1983 Allen Edmonds Fairway. Previously a golf shoe that was recrafted with a leather sole. I usually wear my black-and-white spectators with my silk houndstooth jacket.

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eTrojan

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Great stuff. Thanks so much. I have three pair from the 80s - Strands (88), shell MacNeil (88), Nassau shark (83). I also have some St George boots (currently at Bedo’s) from either ‘70 or ‘71. I agree that the 80s quality is supreme. I have The Bartlett from just a couple of years ago that I like quite a bit bit the craftsmanship is not close to the earlier vintage.

Here’s the pair of Cambridge I was looking at. Thoughts besides that they are way overpriced?

Yes. Grossly overpriced.
 

ProfilaBinding

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Keep in mind, some of what I say applies more to calf than Horween shell.

Based on owning AE’s across 6 decades, they hit a quality high-point from roughly 82-92. Primarily, the materials used were better than those of the 60’s and 70’s and general workmanship is extremely good on 80’s examples. While I love many of the styles of 60’s and 70’s (including hold-over 40/50’s models, like my all-time favorite MacGregor wingtips), when John Stollenwerk bought AE from the Allen’s in 1980, he took the company up-market and subsequently the quality of the leathers used (even the Polished Cobbler CG stuff) are incredibly good, some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen on any shoes. When it comes to NOS and near NOS stuff, if it’s in my size and it has the big block letter Allen Edmonds logo on the insole, I’m probably a buyer.

By the mid-90’s workmanship (due to substantial increases in production) began to slip, but was still pretty damn good and the leather quality was still excellent).

Things degraded a bit further in the 2000’s, but some of that had to do with the tanning industry simply not producing the quality of leather that was once available. Hell, the bend of leather used Alden, Church’s, etc., in the 00’s and 10’s isn’t comparable to that used by AE in 80’s through mid 90’s.

Today, I think AE quality is hit or miss, depending on how stretched production is. The last pair I bought (last year) were pretty damn good; the pair just before that, I haven’t been all that impressed by. The leather they use on their “bench-welt” (aka real AE) line is still good, but finish can be iffy. While the shoes are still made the same way, things like SPI are down from 15 years ago. Some of this is the whole industry - things like outsole stitching are purposely made chunky, prominent and obvious because you’re supposed to see it, versus AE’s 80’s and 90’s tendency toward obfuscating the top outsole stitch by using a very tight stitch, channeling the welt top and tightly cropping the edging. As for uppers, nobody does uppers stitching today like they did in era’s past.

So yeah, based on my experience, there are notable differences in quality across decades. While I’m still a contemporary AE customer, the 80’s stuff is my favorite decade (even if my favorite model was discontinued before the start of the Stollenwerk era).

That said, I saw a pair of Cambridge’s in my local store a few months ago, and they were still pretty damn nice (to nice for me, since I’m still atoning for what I did to my pair of Cambridge’s). But I’m always looking for a pair of NOS or lightly worn 80’s or early 90’s examples because they never made them better than they did in that era (IMHO).
Thanks for sharing this insightful and interesting post. Also, I wondered if you were still visiting the forum and glad to see you haven't left.
 

wasmisterfu

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Incredibly helpful! Is there, by chance, a guide to help determine the approx vintage of an AE pair? I'm able to recognize some of the older insole hallmarks but I have no idea really which is from what time period.
First, there is the very useful catalog archive here: https://bit.ly/2Ky27qq

Second, there is a 4 digit date code located on AE’s made from ~1972 - 2008. The first 3 digits sometimes change order (between day/week to week day), but the last digit is always the last digit of the year within that decade.

For example, these AE Clifton’s have two codes: the first is the model/style code of 0317 (the zero denotes a non-catalog model, reserved for 3rd party resellers and custom orders). The second code indicates that these were made on Tuesday (2nd day of the week) Dec 17th (51st week) 1996. How do we know it’s 1996 and not 76, 86 or 2006? Because the insole branding is consistent with post 1992 branding, the double row of lining stitching went away ~1999, and other details (by 2006 they were channeling the sole for the bottom outsole stitch, something the soles on these don’t exhibit).



When you get back to the 50’s-60’s, dating by exact year gets trickier (damn near impossible prior to 56), but relative position in the decade isn’t too difficult thanks to the catalog archive (since we can see branding changes and such). Post 2008, again, it’s not too hard to nail down where in the 2010’s a pair was made, based of a number of branding and detail changes that were made.

I have an AE model database project I’ve been working on for a while, one of these days I’ll finish it (the biggest problem is normalizing the catalog data, specifically since it’s only available in image form - I had been trying to see if I could automate that process and got way off into the weeds with TensorFlow). In the process of staring at the catalog archive images, along with a bunch of old AE adverts and such, I’ve gotten pretty good at dating a pair just by visual inspection (e.g. changes in the welt style, stitching details, etc.). Waste enough time on this stuff and you’ll get there too - you’ll even commit the names of the heritage last’s to memory, and be able to douchely tell AE sales folks that the Fifth Avenue is built on the “Boulevard Last”. Dunno if that’s a good or bad thing.
 

friendlygoz

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Incredibly helpful! Is there, by chance, a guide to help determine the approx vintage of an AE pair? I'm able to recognize some of the older insole hallmarks but I have no idea really which is from what time period.
I copied and pasted the following email from another StyleForum member who posted the email back in 2004. The email is from AE that explains their date codes.

"The coding inside the shoes tells quite a bit of information regarding the shoe. If you look at your strand, you stated the markings are as such: 8.5 D 22643 II 6155 COMB. 4613 On the top line, 8.5 D is the size and width of the shoe. 22643 is what is called a Case number. This number is used internally during manufacturing to track the shoes progress through the factory. All shoes are made in lots of 12. There are 12 pair of shoes per case which is where the next number comes in. The II that you see is actually a number 11, this is called the Match Mark number. So this shoes is Pair number 11 of 12 in case number 22643. On the bottom, we start with the Style Number. The style number 6155, tells us the type of shoe, the color of the shoe, and what last the shoe was manufactured on. COMB designates that the shoe was manufactured on a 'combination last' This marking is rarely used any longer, since all of our lasts are now combination lasts. Lastly the 4613 is the production date code. 46 is the week of production, 1 is the day of the week, and 3 is the year. So your 6155 Tan Grain Strand lace-up shoe, was manufactured in mid-November in the year of 1993 or 1983. Sincerely, Ryan W Wiedenmeier E-commerce/Tech Support Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corp. [email protected]"

Link to the post: https://www.styleforum.net/threads/markings-in-ae-shoes.5204/
 

Centaurus3200

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I bet you're right! And yeah, there's not that much wear on the soles. At least not commensurate with the wear on the uppers.

And great point about mold. I don't see any, but I smell the remnants.

Who knows what I'll do with them. But they are actually beautifully made shoes for a specific purpose... And man were they used for that purpose!

That damage looks be consistent with wearing climbing spurs. Those boots likely were worn by a lineman or maybe even a logger since the soles don't look like they've seen much concrete. I worked for 30 years as a union pipewelder and wore loggers for a bit but finally switched to western style Redwings, no laces to burn up.
 

Oshare

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Question: Is it possible to stretch shoes for width? My 13D foot keeps seeing attractive shoes in 13C. Is that an option, or should I follow the advice of TLC and "don't go chasing waterfalls, (13C) please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to (13D)" ?
I wouldn't recommend this approach unless it is such a unique shoe that you're unlikely to see it again. In my experience, results from stretching can vary quite a lot. For example, I have a pair of Rider boots that barely stretched at all, whereas a pair of AEs I was able to stretch perfectly. I'm not sure there is any reliable way to predict the outcome. It may be dependent upon the leather (including the lining) and where you need them stretched.
I think it depends on a few factors.

Can you get your foot into the 13C at all? Is it tight all around, or just tight in a few spots? Keep in mind that your foot expands slightly as the day goes on... so if you can barely get your foot in at the start of the day, you will be in a lot of pain by the end of the day.

If you don't have to force your foot into the 13C, and it only feels tight in a spot or two, you could use a shoe stretcher with plastic knubs (usually come with the stretcher) to stretch out those specific spots. I often have to do this when I buy D width shoes because I have a slight bunionette (little toe sticks out a bit at the base) and so it's painful in a specific spot, but have generally had good results.

Other things that can affect the results are the type and thickness of the leather, the type of shoe (I'm trying to stretch a pair of loafers right now and need to do it veeeeery carefully because I don't want the stitching to rip out), and probably just a bit of luck.
 

wasmisterfu

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Great stuff. Thanks so much. I have three pair from the 80s - Strands (88), shell MacNeil (88), Nassau shark (83). I also have some St George boots (currently at Bedo’s) from either ‘70 or ‘71. I agree that the 80s quality is supreme. I have The Bartlett from just a couple of years ago that I like quite a bit bit the craftsmanship is not close to the earlier vintage.

Here’s the pair of Cambridge I was looking at. Thoughts besides that they are way overpriced?

Well, they have a lot of wear, based on the insole staining. They were recrafted in the 00’s based in the style of the J.R. soles and branding. The shoes were made between 86 (when introduced) and 88 based on the insole branding.

As for price - 300 bucks, no way. If I had to guess, those shoes have seen resoling prior to AE recrafting. For 300 bucks, I’d want original soles and heels, and nice clean insoles.
 

wasmisterfu

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wasmisterfu

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I copied and pasted the following email from another StyleForum member who posted the email back in 2004. The email is from AE that explains their date codes.

"The coding inside the shoes tells quite a bit of information regarding the shoe. If you look at your strand, you stated the markings are as such: 8.5 D 22643 II 6155 COMB. 4613 On the top line, 8.5 D is the size and width of the shoe. 22643 is what is called a Case number. This number is used internally during manufacturing to track the shoes progress through the factory. All shoes are made in lots of 12. There are 12 pair of shoes per case which is where the next number comes in. The II that you see is actually a number 11, this is called the Match Mark number. So this shoes is Pair number 11 of 12 in case number 22643. On the bottom, we start with the Style Number. The style number 6155, tells us the type of shoe, the color of the shoe, and what last the shoe was manufactured on. COMB designates that the shoe was manufactured on a 'combination last' This marking is rarely used any longer, since all of our lasts are now combination lasts. Lastly the 4613 is the production date code. 46 is the week of production, 1 is the day of the week, and 3 is the year. So your 6155 Tan Grain Strand lace-up shoe, was manufactured in mid-November in the year of 1993 or 1983. Sincerely, Ryan W Wiedenmeier E-commerce/Tech Support Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corp. [email protected]"

Link to the post: https://www.styleforum.net/threads/markings-in-ae-shoes.5204/
FYI, the 4 digit date code sometimes has the day/week of year data flipped. In one case that I’ve seen, someone must of dialed the numbers in complete wrong because the date was totally impossible (except for the year).

I liked the detail on the case number, that’s pretty cool. But seriously, everyone knows that COMB means the shoe was carefully combed before leaving the factory (brushing is for girls and hippies).
 

ProfilaBinding

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FYI, the 4 digit date code sometimes has the day/week of year data flipped. In one case that I’ve seen, someone must of dialed the numbers in complete wrong because the date was totally impossible (except for the year).

I liked the detail on the case number, that’s pretty cool. But seriously, everyone knows that COMB means the shoe was carefully combed before leaving the factory (brushing is for girls and hippies).
How interesting! I just checked my shell Parks I'm wearing today, and I'm reading as they were made on 3/28/17 -- is that correct? I'm going to check all my shoes when I get home tonight.
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actionjbone

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wasmisterfu

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How interesting! I just checked my shell Parks I'm wearing today, and I'm reading as they were made on 3/28/17 -- is that correct? I'm going to check all my shoes when I get home tonight.
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Nope, those were made after 2008 once they’d discontinued the 4 digit date code. Based on insole branding those were made between 2013 and early ~2017. That other number after 5805 style/model number is the “case code” and the preceding number 8 on the second line is the set or pair number (e.g. this is pair 8 of 12 in case/lot 710328).
 

ProfilaBinding

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Nope, those were made after 2008 once they’d discontinued the 4 digit date code. Based on insole branding those were made between 2013 and early ~2017. That other number after 5805 style/model number is the “case code” and the preceding number 8 on the second line is the set or pair number (e.g. this is pair 8 of 12 in case/lot 710328).
I just saw someone else's old post on this that confirms what you just said. So there is no way to really confirm the year on the newer shoes after 2008? I guess this means there will only be 2 pair I will need to check when I get home, as all my others were made after 2008.

Confirms what you said:
 

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