AscotWithShortSleeves

Senior Member
513
United States
Virginia
Arlington
Afternoon, gents! I'm seeking your informed wisdom.

I just splurged on my first-ever pair of shell cordovan shoes (AE Dalton), which I still haven't worn beyond trying on indoors. I've spent hours reading various threads here and elsewhere on shell care. I want to protect this investment from weather exposure and from drying out over the years.

Yet I'm still unsure of what the ideal protective treatment is--if any.

Here are the various persuasive yet conflicting recommendations from different experts. I'd appreciate opinions on the below, based on long- term shell ownership.

1) Do nothing till they get some wear. This seems to be one of the most popular approaches, the theory being that any wax or cream only clouds the luster and so is to be applied with extreme restraint. And yet ...

2) Paste wax only, three layers is the regimen Alden of Carmel has endorsed for new shoes, based on the experience of one longtime customer/AAAC member who reportedly owns the world's largest collection. But then....

3) Alden itself offers silicone-free waterproofing it says was personally developed by the company president! Who presumably owns many pairs of cordovan shoes. Who else could be as authoritative? That is, who other than....

4) Nick Horween himself, who endorsed the use of Venetian Shoe Cream in this very forum several years ago, to condition the shell. So Venetian has to be best, right?

5) Or does VSC contain turpentine, as many have surmised? Maybe Nick just meant for old shell, where the added cleaning power might be worth the risk of loosening up the pores/fibers with a solvent.

6) Still, so many sites say never to use cream---only paste wax.

7) But then others ( e.g., Hanger Project) recommend Saphir Renovateur (a cream!) followed by paste wax. But again: Does that advice apply to brand-new, perfectly clean shoes?

8) Elsewhere online are folks who swear by coconut oil--and in theory, packing any leather chock full of oil makes sense, since cracking results from drying out. I myself used walnut oil on a shell wallet with great results. But then it's not as glossy a finish. And the wallet is black, so maybe oil is a no-no on any other color.

Help!

Sincere thanks for any clarity on this.
 

richard warren

Senior Member
543
United States
Louisiana
covington
I started putting Lexol once a year or so on mine (Aldens all) after some appeared to be drying, with no regrets, and put a coat of Alden polish on if they look like they need it. Some of the number 8's have gotten lighter and some darker over the years.

I really like shell cordovan a lot but see no need to baby it too much. I would treat them like any other shoes with the exception of getting shoes trees a size smaller because I do believe a spring driven shoe tree can stretch them.
 

AscotWithShortSleeves

Senior Member
513
United States
Virginia
Arlington
Richard, thank you. No plans to baby them, but if I can extend their life by doing something now while they're new, I'm willing.

If some of yours were drying out after (if I understood correctly) no initial treatment, would that not mean some conditioner applied right out of the box might've prevented this?
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
30,103
Harmony, FL
United States
Florida
Harmony
I apply Venetian Cream to all of my shoes, shell cordovans, cow/calf hide, Kangaroo hide and a few other exotics, on an as needed basis and it has performed superbly. I've used Lexol on my heavier work boots, saddles and other items of tack, but never on my dress shoes or shell cordovan's. Were I in the OP's shoes I would be very cautious walking that path! Whatever the OP chooses to apply to his new shells, do so sparingly...years ago I ruined my first pair of shell cordovans by over polishing them. :oops:
 
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AscotWithShortSleeves

Senior Member
513
United States
Virginia
Arlington
That’s the nicest looking Dalton I’ve ever seen.
Thanks so much! Would you believe they're factory seconds?

You too, Fading Fast. Indeed, the one slight drawback is the lack of speed hooks. The Long Branch boot has them but also has a massive lug sole and a casual shape -- and it isn't available in shell.

Maybe I'll get them installed eventually. Hooks look less formal, but then trouser legs will hide them. (I'll resist the urge to wear the Daltons with shorts. Even lederhosen!)
 
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AscotWithShortSleeves

Senior Member
513
United States
Virginia
Arlington
I apply Venetian Cream to all of my shoes, shell cordovans, cow/calf hide, Kangaroo hide and a few other exotics, on an as needed basis and it has performed superbly. I've used Lexol on my heavier work boots, saddles and other items of tack, but never on my dress shoes or shell cordovan's. Were I in the OP's shoes I would be very cautious walking that path! Whatever the OP chooses to apply to his new shells, do so sparingly...years ago I ruined my first pair of shell cordovans by over polishing them. :oops:
Eagle, thanks for the advice. May I ask: Was Venetian the product you used in the shoes you overpolished?
 
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