Florsheim Imperial 93605 eBay Guide

The Florsheim Imperial Kenmoor 93605 is the most sought after vintage Florsheim shoe on eBay. The Imperial was one of the best American made shoes in its day and this model’s Shell Cordovan leather was a step up from the more common calfskin Imperials. The shoe has the classic “gunboat” long wing style that was very popular in the USA during the 1960s and 1970s and remains somewhat popular today. It’s goodyear welted double leather sole and armored heel means its a very durable shoe.

The 93605 is also a good value for someone looking to buy a Horween burgundy Shell Cordovan long wing. While not cheap, they are more affordable than paying $740 for a new Alden 975 or $650 for an Allen Edmonds MacNeil.

There are other options for used Shell Cordovan long wings on eBay. A used Alden 975 is fairly common but will regularly sell on eBay for $450 (the #AldenArmy is strong). Used Allen Edmonds MacNeil shoes (models 9187/9097), are also common and have a similar price point as worn Florsheim 93605 shoes. Hanover LB Sheppard Shell Cordovan shoes are infrequent but not rare. Nunn Bush, Bostonian, Johnston and Murphy, Nettleton and French Shriner all made Shell Cordovan long wings but they are very rare so good luck finding one.

I have bought and sold a lot of pairs of Florsheim Shell Cordovan 93605 shoes. I definitely don’t need another pair (or do I?), but I thought I would pass along some of my experience to others looking to buy or sell a vintage pair.

Florsheim 93605 Shell Cordovan

History

The Florsheim Imperial 93605 was made from about 1958 to 1988. It was preceded by a similar model called the S-1724 Viking. Outside of the heel change in 1973 (v-cleat no longer flush with the edge of the heel), the model materials and design stayed the same over the years. Pre-1973 examples are fairly rare though.

This was one of Florsheim Shoe Co’s premium models and was an all leather shoe with full glove leather lining. It featured a double leather sole accented by 5 nails and a leather heel with v-cleat and 50 to 80 nails. The heel is essentially a steel heel held together by leather. This limits traction and is why some call it a “suicide heel” due to wearers slipping and falling on smooth surfaces. If you find a pair with a rubber heel, the heel was replaced at some point (and probably by someone who fell). The Florsheim 93605 was eventually replaced by the almost identical Royal Imperial 97626 in the 1990s.

Below is a 1961 ad for the 93605.
Florsheim 1961 Ad

Color

Shell Cordovan long wing Imperials came in two colors: brown (93605); black (92612). For the Florsheim Imperial 93605, the color of the leather can vary from a darkish eggplant (see photo below), to almost a Coca-Cola red. For a single pair of Florsheim shoes, both shoes will have the same consistent color. From what I know of the manufacturing process, each shoe was made from a single “shell” and Florsheim did a very good job matching the shells so the left and right shoe look the same. The shell color on other manufacturer shoes is sometimes not as consistent. I have a pair of Johnston & Murphy shell shortwings and a few pieces of leather on the shoes have a somewhat different color than the other pieces. I believe this is due to the use of multiple shells for a single shoe.

According to this Ashland Leather post, Florsheim used Horween color #4 for this model.

Florsheim Imperial 93605 color

Sizing

In my experience, the Florsheim 93605 runs true to size but I have found less size consistency in 1960s models. Compared to a similar size AE MacNeil, the Florsheim will have a bit more room in the toe box. The Alden will be a half size off because of the Barrie last. 11C and 10.5D are the most common sizes for the Florsheim 93605 on eBay. These charts breakdown eBay listed 93605 sizes and widths during the past year.

Florshiem Imperial 93605 Sizes

Florsheim Imperial 93605 Widths

The size of vintage shoes can be hit or miss. If the shoes don’t fit or you find your feet hurting at the end of the day, don’t wear the shoes. You can usually resell the shoes for a similar price to what you paid for them.

Most eBay sellers are not the ones who wore the shoes. They bought them at estate sales, goodwill etc. Most don’t know how they fit. This is their job: Phase 1) Buy; Phase 2) Sell; Phase 3) Profit.

Florsheim Imperial Insole

Buying

When buying used Shell Cordovan, watch for damage in the heel counter or tears near the eyelets. Once the Shell rips or tears, it can’t be fixed. Some damage will likely lead to more damage, so I avoid shoes with even minor deterioration.

Another issue is over waxing which can be difficult to remove. If the broguing looks like it has burnt orange highlights, then minimal or no wax/polish has been applied to the shoes. The lack of wax/polish also means the shoes have likely received minimal conditioning.

If the listing photos are poor, old shell is a bit of a gamble so prepare to be disappointed.

After buying a pair, they will likely need some reconditioning. I usually start with wiping the pair down with a damp cloth and then giving them a vigorous brushing. You will usually see a huge improvement from just doing that. Then, depending on the condition, I will use Saphir Reno Mat to clean them. If the shell is very old and dry, I give them an application of Lexol NF Neatsfeet and then Bickmore 4 for conditioning. For regular maintenance, I use Venetian Shoe Cream or Saphir Renovateur which will both condition and shine them. I typically don’t use hard waxes on Shell Cordovan but I have used Allen Edmonds Cordovan Cream when there are dull areas. Collonil 1909 is a high shine product that I have used.

Disinfect the interior of the shoes. You never know. I use an alcohol spray but there are many commercial disinfectant products.

Florsheim Imperial Sole

Pricing

Below is a rough pricing guide for Florsheim Imperial 93605. The estimated price is based on actual eBay auctions and is in USD. Buy It Now prices were not considered. While the price is meant as a guide for buyers and sellers, an auction determines the actual market price. The more popular sizes (8.5 to 12 D) will have, in general, more bids. There is significantly more demand for wide sizes than narrow.

  • New – with box: $500
  • Florsheim Imperial 93605 WidthsFlorsheim Imperial 93605 Widths

  • New – without box: $400
  • ExampleExample

  • Worn – Excellent Condition: $275 (Upper is like new. Minimal wear on sole and heel)
  • ExampleExample

  • Worn – Very Good Condition: $175 (Upper has minor scuffs and/or scratches. Original heels and sole with moderate wear
  • ExampleExample

  • Worn – Good Condition: $125 (Leather in good condition. Very worn sole and heel or replaced heel)
  • ExampleExample

  • Worn – Fair Condition: $75 (Mottled shell. Insole logo not visible, sole and heel replaced, worn shell)
  • ExampleExample

  • Worn – Damaged Condition: $50
  • ExampleExample

The quality of the photos and preparation of the shoes will also have a large influence on price. The following photos are of the same shoe in two different listings. The first listing sold for $40 and the second listing of the same shoe went for $180.

old dirty shoe

Florsheim 93605 Imperial Shell Cordovan

Examples

I went through recent Florsheim 93605 listings and below are a few examples of the good and bad that I found.

Nice patina. Should clean up well. Buy
Patina

These ones have been over waxed or polished or something. Skip
Skip

Cracking by the eyelets. Pass
Shell Cordovan damage eyelets

This heel is in excellent shape. Buy
excellent

Significant deterioration near the heel. Skip
Shell Cordovan damage

Dirty but in near new condition. Buy!
Florsheim Imperial 93605

Great color. Surface grim will likely wipe off easily. A good buy
Florsheim 93605

Too much wax or polish
Crap

Like new. Great condition. Note the burnt orange highlights. Buy them!
NOS 93605 Florsheim

Nice patina. The shoes look like they need conditioning and cleaning
Shell Cordovan patina

Heel counter damage. Nope
Nope

Very worn shell that has seen too much wax/polish
Nope

These need to go to the bin
Nope

The burnt orange highlights mean these shoes have likely had minimal wax/polish
Vintage Shell Cordovan

Awesome. Overpay for a pair like this
Florsheim Shell Cordovan Imperial 93605

Project shoe. This will likely look good after a few rounds of cleaning and conditioning
project shoe

The vamp has had too much wax and polish. Pass
Too much wax on Shell Cordovan

The start of trouble
Trouble

Original pre 1973 heel
Sixties Florsheim 93605

Vamp cracking. Avoid
Shell Cordovan Cracking

Dry. Tired. Cracked. Skip
Vamp Trouble


20 thoughts on “Florsheim Imperial 93605 eBay Guide”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this advice!
    I’ve been following your blog for a some time now and I am impressed by it.
    Thanks!

    1. Yes. The 97626 and 93605 are basically the same shoe. The heel is slightly different. The 97626 was manufactured once the 93605 ended. In the late 90s, Florsheim removed “Royal” from the 97626 and it became an Imperial.

  2. Very much liking your guide and article on Shells, I own the shoes you have mentioned in the NWOB Florsheim Shell, they are 12B size. Its a gorgeous pair with amazing shell variations. Thoroughly impressed with your blog and site..

  3. Really, really love your work on this. I have a pair of circa 1966 93605’s that I’ve had resoled. 75 bucks for the shoe + much more for the resoling. The one problem is that there is a dark discoloration in the folds on the vamp. The rest appears to have developed a great patina, but the dark folds bugs me – any suggestions to improve this? Reno-mat?

    1. Reno’Mat is the best cleaner I have found for Shell Cordovan. It will remove old polish and that should help. Shell will darken in the fold areas. You can’t totally remove those. I just fixed up a pair of shell PTBs with a similar state. I posted some pictures on styleforum. I will update this blog with those photos soon.

      1. Thanks a ton, David. Love these things, with the exception of those darkened areas in the rolls on the vamp. Just took a gamble on a pair of Hanover PTB’s via ebay – we’ll see how they come out, but at 30 bucks, not much of a gamble. Not listed as shell, but with reasonable indications that they were.

  4. David, thanks for the excellent resource. I just picked up a pair of worn – good condition 93605 from Goodwill. The liner in one shoe is light orange and in the other, the liner is light tan. Is this considered a significant defect or is this just what happened some times due to supply variation and it’s ‘acceptable’? I may try to find a good home for this pair since it’s a size 9d and it’s a bit more snug than I like, but I had to buy it because it was so handsome.

  5. Excellent information!

    Thank you so very much for educating us. I am in the market for a vintage pair of several models.

    I have spend 3 hours looking. Time well spend!

  6. Great article and very informative, as I’m looking for a pair of vintage cordovan shoes, I have purchased a number of vintage cheaney and Barker Calf skin shoes in the past but now want to try get some cordovans,all my purchases have been from eBay and most have been good as the photos, one pair had dried out and the sole split open but I got it fixed and they look fantastic.

    1. The old wax can develop a gritty feel and discolor the folds of the leather. You’ll see dark bands in the shell. Its tough/impossible to remove.

  7. Wondering how I should care and maintain the lining, I have a pair otherwise not to bad, bu the lining has some open seams and appears “dry”, obviously the shoes haven’t been worn for long time

  8. David,

    Thank you for the inline hint!

    Yesterday I got a pair of Cordovan Imperials from a honest eBay-seller, the pair looked first quite ok.

    But when squeezing the part above the heel, I realized a light crackling along the vertical seam, also when squeezing the leather on the body of the shoe, a crackling exactly lengthwise in the brogueing showed up. This hasn’t been visible on the photos.
    When I informed the seller (not an experienced shoe seller), he was obviously more shocked then I was, he offered immediate refund and the shoes for free, as return postage from Switzerland would have been very expensive, no doubt a second buyer would have complained too.

    So this bad purchase had been an excellent human experience!

    Now I have a pair of Vcleat Florsheim cordovan I can use for cleaning tests etc.

    But I have some questions:

    How does such damage happen? Is it from not using cream and pomade? From not wearing such shoes for decades? From not creaming and not wearing? From moisture?

    How is it possible to keep an old shoe (30, 40, 50 years old) in good condition and to wear it?

    Is there a way to secure a shoe that one finds in an estate and that hasn’t been worn nor creamed for decades ?

    Sorry for my English mistakes, I am not English spoken!

    1. That’s a good story.

      Every pair is different but you are likely correct about the cause – lack of conditioning. If you buy vintage shoes, its likely impossible to know their full history so prepare to be disappointed. Unworn shoes mean that the shoes likely haven’t been conditioned as well.

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