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What is the shoe patina?

Bic Pentameter

Senior Member
May 1, 2002
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I've been influenced by recent posts describing polishing shoes with interesting colors. To wit, I dropped by the Berlutti store last Saturdayto pick up some blue and green polish. I'll use the blue on my black Edward Greens, and the green on my lighter tan colored C&J's.  Because the woman behind the register was kinda cute, I teased her by asking if they also sell little bottles of champagne to polish along with the polish. She said that they did not.

Side by side with previous posts on interesting polish colors is a line of threads asking about products to clean and strip excess polish from shoes.

This has started me thinking about the illustrious "patina," most often found on brown or cordovan colored shoes.  When I saw the term in previous posts, the scientific meaning came to mind "a fine coating of oxide on the surface of a metal."  
(For example, the stuff that the seller kindly removed from those antique sterling cuff links I bought on eBay...I would have preferred she hadn't taken the time to remove it.  I like that patina.)

Websters online suggests the following definition:  The color or incrustation which age gives to works of art; especially, the green rust which covers ancient bronzes, coins, and medals. "

What is the brown shoe patina made of?  Is it simply dirt and unstripped shoe polish (that, like the silver on my cuff links, could conceivably be removed with a good cleaning or factory re-lasting), or is it something more (the creases and sublte dings that accumulate with wear)?



Distinguished Member
Mar 3, 2004
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In my experience -- and I don't have ANY experience with patination of fine brown shoes such as Ed Green or anything (yet.
) -- it is a combination of dings and spots where moisture/dirt selectively seeped into the leather more deeply. So, for example, the toes of my brown shoes have gotten darker and more "oily" looking probably because the toes tend to get splashed with dirt/water more than the parts of my shoe covered by my cuffs. Additionally, I think that the patina might also be caused by sun exposure, though this I am less sure of. But, conceivably the UV rays would cause certain "hot spots" to discolor -- but in a good way. I'm just taking wild guesses here though -- it could be that my "patination" was just a result of me taking care of my shoes poorly. In any event, I doubt a true patina could simply be stripped off.

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