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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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?
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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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Eagle, thanks for the advice. May I ask: Was Venetian the product you used in the shoes you overpolished?
Venetian Cream was not the culprit, but rather, my own stupidity was the cause of the damage. I purchased a pair of AE's Leeds in black shell cordovan early in my USAF career, and proceeded to spit-shine them with a tin of Kiwi paste wax, as I recall. It took many coats of polish and an unbelievable amount of elbow grease, but I did it. Unfortunately the pristine shine did not hold up well and the desired result became harder and harder to achieve. I quickly ruined those fine shoes purely because I didn't know what I was doing and didn't take the time to find out! You sir, have already proven yourself to be wiser than I was in such regard! LOL. ;) May you long wear and greatly enjoy those new boots.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Venetian Cream was not the culprit, but rather, my own stupidity was the cause of the damage. I purchased a pair of AE's Leeds in black shell cordovan early in my USAF career, and proceeded to spit-shine them with a tin of Kiwi paste wax, as I recall. It took many coats of polish and an unbelievable amount of elbow grease, but I did it. Unfortunately the pristine shine did not hold up well and the desired result became harder and harder to achieve. I quickly ruined those fine shoes purely because I didn't know what I was doing and didn't take the time to find out! You sir, have already proven yourself to be wiser than I was in such regard! LOL. ;) May you long wear and greatly enjoy those new boots.
Ha! I didn't mention how l applied AE carnauba polish to my shell wallet, creating a waxy, Chromexcel-like surface, which I only managed to remove with Citri- Strip.

Thanks for the good wishes.
 

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I use Saphir Renovateur and a little wax for scuffs, just like on all my other shoes, but the shell pairs get much longer brushing sessions. It really brings out the shine. On new shoes I probably wouldn't do anything unless they look dry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
What size are they? I noticed the pair at the local AE outlet(Mebane) disappeared from the shoebank recently after being there for months.
Simple question, complicated answer: Ostensibly they're 9E, but the length definitely seems like 9.5E. (Took me a while to realize this, as I still haven't worn them beyond 5 minutes indoors, nor of course treated them with anything.)

They also have a different sole (Dainite) from the Rendenbach sole listed online when I bought them; I know some guys prefer Dainite, but I'd never wear these outside, ever. (In fact, I keep dress shoes in my desk at work to save wear from the parking lot.) I also prefer leather soles with business attire. And call me weird, but I love the way leather soles sound on terrazzo.

So given those issues, I may return them or exchange them, if AE will ever get back to me. (They normally charge the $25 restocking fee for seconds, but hopefully when the return is due to their own error they'll do the right thing and waive it.)

ShawlLapel, thanks for your response.

Delicious Scent, I've read that about deer bone but to me it just sounds a little superstitious -- if the magic potion is animal-bone juice, then wouldn't neetsfoot oil rubbed in with a spoon be the same thing? -- not to mention scratch-prone in clumsy hands like mine!
 

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I really only use Renovateur and brushing. When I got my shell Graysons (from Shoebank) they were pretty dry and needed a fair amount of Reno out of the gates. Now I just brush them after wearing.

I do also have a ton of burgundy Cordovan cream from AE that has some dye in it- I used it once for a touch up, and it was fine, but I don’t think I’ll use it often at all
 

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No disrespect to anyone here whatsoever but I do not recommend Lexol for shell cordovan.

As other have noted the VSC product is great but I can testify to Saphir Cordovan Cream being slightly better.

Thanks.
 
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No disrespect to anyone here whatsoever but I do not recommend Lexol for shell cordovan.

As other have noted the VSC product is great but I can testify to Saphir Cordovan Cream being slightly better.

Thanks.
I would need to find it, but someone did a side by side review with VSC and Reno on a pair of shoes- I ended up buying Reno because I liked those results better.
 

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I would need to find it, but someone did a side by side review with VSC and Reno on a pair of shoes- I ended up buying Reno because I liked those results better.
Reno is good. Lightyears better than Lexol. However, Renovator is to be used sparingly, sparingly. Once per year. In fact, I would only rec. Reno for deep cleaning and restoration work.

Reno is far, far better diluted 50/50 with Saphir Creme Universal. Turpentine can be disastrous on Cordovan as Eagle suggested. So, any product containing that should be used on a "must have" basis. Less is more.

This discussion comes up about once or twice a year and the same things are always said.

Over the years fellow forumites have requested I make a cordovan care and polish video, of which I was happily obliged to do, until Kirby Allison made one that I heartily recommend:


^^^This vid is a little long but enjoy!
 
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