Florsheim Imperial Shell Cordovan Wingtip

Florsheim Imperial Shell Cordovan Wingtip

Heading to work the other day, my mind was obviously on shoes. And business. And shoes again. And then doughnuts. Because I love doughnuts. And shoes. And business. Of course. Sometimes a very kind person at my office will bring in doughnuts. Usually on Friday. But it was Tuesday. I thought, if I thought positive thoughts, the thought of doughnuts might enter the thoughts of this person. Positive and powerful thoughts. I needed to channel Tony Robbins. Exude confidence. Chin up, chest out, shoes polished. Today is the day. Doughnut day.

When I entered the office kitchen, there were no doughnuts. Just aging apples and bananas. I was disappointed. I explained my disappointment to the two women coworkers in the kitchen at the time. They were not sympathetic. One asked me why I didn’t just buy a doughnut. The other agreed and then double downed by saying I should have bought doughnuts for the whole office. Logic can be annoying when it is deployed to assault your positive and powerful thoughts.

I thanked them for their sage comments. I grabbed a glass and filled it with free, sanitized, on demand water from the office water dispenser and headed to my desk. My head was still up and my shoes were still polished. Tomorrow will be the day. Yes.

Today is a day for a pair of vintage shoes. It usually is. Unless it isn’t. This pair is rare pair of Florsheim Imperial Shell Cordovan wingtips.

Florsheim Shell Cordovan Wingtip

Florsheim didn’t regularly produce a pair of Shell Cordovan wingtips after it ended production of the model 32301 in the mid-1960s. I assume this was due to the lack of sales. During the 1960s to 1990s, Florsheim Shell Cordovan models were primary long wings and plain toe bluchers (PTBs) in brown or black. Florsheim also made a few Shell loafers, most notably, the Yuma. You can see examples of the models on my Florsheim Shell Cordovan models page.

Florsheim Imperial Shell Cordovan

Alden and Allen Edmonds still makes Shell Cordovan wingtips. This Florsheim design is more like the Alden 974 than the Allen Edmonds Cambridge. The wingtip Balmoral is a classic style but I prefer a cap toe for dressy occasions and a long wing for casual wear. Which is almost every day.

Shell Cordovan Wingtip

Shell Cordovan is a bit of an obsession in the USA. It seems like European manufacturers only produce shell models to sell in America. I could be wrong. Is it a practical leather? No. But it looks great when shined. It can have a depth of color not found on any calfskin leather. But it is fussy and requires a lot of maintenance. So it’s good looking and fussy. Most men can tolerate anything fussy if also good looking.

Florsheim Imperial Shell Cordovan

Doughnuts are another favorite in the USA. And every American loves them without exception. Pretty sure. I looked it up and apparently the doughnut was invented by a Dutch American. Good for us. Unfortunately, I also found out that Americans did not invent wingtips, Shell Cordovan, shoes or horses. Another American disappointment. Like the New York Knicks.

Florsheim Shell Cordovan Color 8

This pair was likely made in the 1980s. It must have been produced in a special run because it doesn’t have a regular model number listed on the inside. The shoe construction is quite nice. Its fully leathered lined and the black lining has cool green stitching. I normally wear a 11.5 D or 12 C but this 12 C runs long. Almost too big.

Florsheim Shell Cordovan

I have only seen a few Florsheim Shell wing tips on eBay in the past few years. I have seen a lot of sellers promote their Florsheim wingtip model as Shell Cordovan when it is not. These faux Shell models include the 30353, 30368, 93327, 93363, 97318, and 97323.

Florsheim Imperial Color 8

I took a few photos of the shoes in the full sun and shade to highlight the shoes color. The shoes were in very good condition when I bought them. I just cleaned them with a damp cloth and a good brushing. I conditioned and polished the pair with both Venetian Shoe Cream (first) and Colonil 1909 Creme Supreme neutral (second).

Florsheim Shell Cordovan

Enjoy the photos.

Florsheim Imperial Shell Cordovan

34 thoughts on “Florsheim Imperial Shell Cordovan Wingtip”

  1. Looks like these have a tiny bit of cracking on the left heel. They’re quite beautiful, but I was under the impression that you were against purchasing any Shells with this condition. I’m making this point because I too have some Shells (93605) with similar issues. Since the heel counter shows no sign of a loss in structural integrity, I have convinced myself that everything is going to be fine. I have yet to purchase any vintage Shells that do not have at least some cracking on the piping near the heel.
    I’d be interested to get your thoughts on the issue.

    1. Yes, my recommendation is not to buy shell that is cracking. Its an indicator of general condition of the shoes. You are buying shoes just off eight or so shoes photos on eBay. That said, if you own a pair, wear the pair. I have a few pairs with minor cracks on the eyelets. I believe I caused the cracks but they could have been there when I bought them. On this pair, there is a tiny cut or tear on the back. I am not what caused it. I didn’t see it in the listing photos and the seller didn’t disclose it.

  2. Just curious why the non-shell version of these shoes – like the 92329 – don’t get much love on vcleat. Are they just not that close to the classic longwing in terms of quality?

    1. Other than the upper leather, they are Imperials are basically the same shoe. The burgundy models are often labelled as Shell Cordovan on ebay listings when they are not. That’s burned a number of people.

      1. The Imperial WTBs are generally good shoes and on par with long wings. Quality in the 80s and 90s wasn’t consistent though. Sometimes you will find a lemon

  3. 30353 not shell. I’m glad I read this before buying “NOS shell cordovan” on Ebay. Still a good deal for a fine shoe at $100 but not SC. ~JG

  4. Hey David!

    I nabbed a pair of 30353s for less than $10 at a thrift shop – I know you said above that the 30353s were corrected leather – do you know anything else about them, like when they were made or if they are even worth having?


  5. I have a pair of Florsheim Imperial shoes that I bought in the 80s. They are black and I am almost positive they are Shell Cordovans. They are size 10D and the number inside is 665235! The date inside is LD and the model no. is 92343! They are in very good condition since I have not worn them a lot and I have kept them in shoe trees all these years. If anyone happens to accidentally reads this and knows anything about this shoe, i’m hoping they can contact me and give me an idea of what they are worth? My email is jerryrgrigsby@live.com

  6. I found a pair of 93363 on eBay that was NOT listed as shell cordovan (thankfully). The pics of the leather also appear “dull” and not consistent with corrected/bookbinder leather. Any chance 93363 is just full-grain calfskin?

    1. The 93363 is not bookbinder. That said, the leather quality doesn’t appear to be high in the examples I have seen.

  7. I just both the same model in ebay 5S338202 size 12 C 601250 6. Maybe I bought yours :). It seems this model is not made of genuine shell cordovan. Heels do not belong to the high end models. Please advise.

  8. The pair is Shell Cordovan. I looked at the Japanese blog post and the pair there is Shell Cordovan as well. You can tell Shell because it doesn’t crease, it has rolls. I sold this pair a while back so if you bought it recently, then someone must have resold it.

  9. If this is shell cordovan, I did not remove the surface leather, it came like that, after the coating. Probably florsheim used to use low quality shell cordovan on some of its models and that is the reason for the coating layer. Sort ot bookbinder concept.

    1. Horween does not grade Shell Cordovan by quality, just size. Horween claims it is all first quality. But maybe you are right about Florsheim.

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