Cardinals5

Honors Member
I picked these up for a song on eBay this morning assuming that they're shell, but the maker, Lotus, is rather obscure (not know for making shell). I decided to take a chance since the depth of color around the toe seems to indicate shell - if they're not shell at least I'm not out much.

What does the forum think - shell or not shell?

Any hints on how to repair/stop the cracking on the side of the toe in the third picture?

Lotus (Made in England) Burgundy PTBs









 

AAF-8AF

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I say shell based upon: creasing, color, splotchy patterns under translucent finish, and lack of evident grain or pore structure. Can't help with the cracking, but some conditioner might be good if it's getting dry.
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127.72 MHz

Advanced Member
My guess is shell too. I've seen old shoes with years of polish on them, not to imply they've been abused, look almost like shell.

To me the only definitive give away is the heavy creasing indicative of the horsey.
 
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WindsorNot

Senior Member
Lucky. I was watching those as well. My guess was not shell due to the look of the leather. The creasing indicates shell, but the leather does not have the dense look of shell. Please let us know, as I was curious myself.
 

Cardinals5

Honors Member
Thanks fellows for confirming my suspicion that these are shell.

Any recommendations for conditioners for shell that have become dry? I have a couple of pairs of shells that are 20-30 years old and probably need some conditioner, but I've been afraid of ruining the finish by using conditioners made for calf. I've just maintained them using the MacMethod.

I've read recommendations for AE's shell cordovan cream, but no one mentioned whether this will work for dried out shell.
 

Cardinals5

Honors Member
Lucky. I was watching those as well. My guess was not shell due to the look of the leather. The creasing indicates shell, but the leather does not have the dense look of shell. Please let us know, as I was curious myself.
Will do WindsorNot - my first instinct was the same as yours (not shell) and probably just abused old calf, but the depth of color on the toes and the speckled effect, which I also have on my shell longwings, along with the full leather heels convinced me to buy them on a whim. I'll update the thread (with pics) when I receive the shoes.

With my luck they'll be shell, but the 8.5 size will be British sizing :icon_pale:
 

Cardinals5

Honors Member
I'm currently going drastic on a pair of Alden shell full-strap loafers I fished off eBay for $20 that were also drying out. I'm giving them Lexol Conditioner on one shoe to see the results (N. Horween suggested this method in another thread). These full-strap loafers are going back to Alden for a recraft anyway so I thought I'd see what the shell can handle.

I'll report back as to whether they take a good shine after the conditioner.
 

Coleman

Super Member
Now that I'm home, and I can see the pics, my vote is shell also. Despite the bit o' cracking they still look nice. Rock those shells! :aportnoy:
 

Cardinals5

Honors Member
I used Lexol Conditioner on my beat up Alden shell full strap loafers - I applied a thin coat using a soft cotton rag - and after waiting a few hours gave them a good rubbing with an old athletic sock. The Conditioner seems to have darkened them just a hair (hardly noticeable) and the shine came back without much trouble. The shell does seem more flexible/pliable after the conditioner. I probably wouldn't use this treatment on new shells, but for those that weren't well cared for (eBay finds) and are showing signs of cracking I think it works well.

I'll take before and after pics of the above PTBs after I receive them and give them a treatment with the Lexol Conditioner.
 

Benzito

New Member
I bought some old Florsheims and used AE cordovan creme. Mine didn't have the cracking like that, but there was a bit of dryness in the crease (don't you hate that - shoes or otherwise?). Seemed to work pretty well.
 

cecil47

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I hate to sound like a greenie, but I am what I am when it comes to shell. Can someone point out the defining characteristics of shell to look for in photos?
 

Cardinals5

Honors Member
I hate to sound like a greenie, but I am what I am when it comes to shell. Can someone point out the defining characteristics of shell to look for in photos?
As evidenced by the plethora of "shell or not shell" threads it is frequently quite difficult to determine whether shoes are shell just from photographs. That said, an eye for shell cordovan can often lead, if you're willing to wear used shoes or have them refurbished, extremely cheap shell shoes (all four pair of my shells were snatched from eBay for under $50 shipped because the seller didn't realize they were shell).

Here's what I look for:
1. Distictive shell ripples/waves on the vamp.
2. Lack of micro-creasing anywhere on the shoe.
3. The special glow/shine of shell cordovan
4. Depth of color on toes (if pics are good enough as above)
5. A certain puffiness around eyelets/brouging
6. The general overall quality of the shoe/sole - shells were never cheap
7. What company manufactured the shoe (not always a great indicator since many companies, such as the Lotus shoes above, used to make shells but no one knows it)

Look at a lot of old shells - Uncle Mac's are actually bad examples - that have significant wear and you'll get used to the distinctive look of aged shell cordovan, then you can skim through eBay's offerings fairly quickly and the shell candidates will jump out at you (there are lots of unmarked shells on eBay).
 

cecil47

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Look at a lot of old shells - Uncle Mac's are actually bad examples - that have significant wear and you'll get used to the distinctive look of aged shell cordovan, then you can skim through eBay's offerings fairly quickly and the shell candidates will jump out at you (there are lots of unmarked shells on eBay).
If I could find a pair like Uncle Mac's, I'd probably fall over dead!

Thanks very much, your primer is very helpful. I had already noticed the ripple/creasing markers, but not the other more subtle nuances.
 

AlanC

Sartorial Sultan<br> Moderator, Trad Forum
I look forward to seeing pics when you get them. Congrats on the buy.

Cecil, once you see and handle some shell shoes in person it's a lot easier to recognize them in pictures. It's more of an art than a science, but once you 'get it' they're pretty easy to recognize (given the right pics).
 
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