The information in this post covers the 1950s to the 1990s. During these years, Florsheim dominated the dress shoe market in the United States. The company produced some great (and not so great), shoes during that period. These vintage Florsheim shoes are sought after by men’s dress shoe enthusiasts and are commonly bought and sold on eBay.
I have never worked for Florsheim but I have bought and sold hundreds of pairs vintage Florsheim shoes. So the information I am providing in this post has largely been gathered from first hand experience, old Florsheim catalogs and some research done by a number of awesome Japanese shoe bloggers. If you buy or sell vintage Florsheim shoes, you should find this information useful. I hope!
Looking for info on Shell Cordovan models? Visit this post which has a complete list of Florsheim’s vintage Shell Cordovan models. And read my guide to buying a Florsheim Imperial 93605.
I have a post on buying vintage shoes which explains to what to look for when buying a pair.
Shoe Manufacturing Codes
10 1/2 D – Size information. US sizing
654543 – An order/sequence number but I don’t believe the value is unique. The same number should appear in the left and right shoe
15 – Factory/manufacturer code (pretty sure)
93631 – This is the model number (Golden Harvest)
GH – Month/Year code (more on this below)
Date of Manufacture
Florsheim used two letters on the shoes to represent the year and month (see discussion). The first character is the month (A=January, B=February, and so on). The second character is the last digit of the year (A=0, B=1, etc). In the 1950s, the month was a letter but the year was a number (i.e. “D9”).
So in the example above, GH would be July of the year 7. Is that 1997 or 1987 or 1977 or 1967? I am guessing it is 1977. This was a model produced in the 1960s and 1970s and this particular shoe has a post-1973 v-cleat (more on that later).
Unfortunately for us, Florsheim decided to use a single character to represent the year. So its difficult to date Florsheim shoes to the year without knowing the years the model was produced. And that information is hard to come by. More on that later.
I made this date calculator to help you decode the possible dates:
Enter Florsheim Date Code (Upper Case):
A few dating clues that can help you (see examples at the bottom of the page):
- The Imperial Kenmoor 92604 and 93602 (the two most common Florsheim Imperial models on eBay) were produced from 1958 to 1988
- Most of the Royal Imperial models you see on eBay (97623, 97624, 97625, 97626), were made in the 1990s
- If the numbering looks old and is black, it is likely from the 1950s or 1960s
- In Imperial models after 1973, the v-cleat position is inset within the heel toplift. Before that, the v-cleat was flush with the outside of the heel (see examples at the bottom of the page)
- In 1993 and after, some models are labelled “Made in USA”. This was probably done to distinguish them from “Made in India” models
- Theater like Florsheim corporate logo appeared in shoes ~1992
- Rectangle Florsheim corporate logo appeared in 1997
- Models labelled with “Assembled in USA” started in 1997
- “Custom Grade” models were made in Spain in the 1980s
- If the shoes have a date code and the second character is a number (i.e. “D9”), the shoes were made in the 1950s
- My mostly complete list of calfskin long wing models has some dating information
Model Number Details
From 1957 to 2002, the model number was a 5 digit code. The first reference I saw for this 5 digit number system was in a February 1957 ad, but it may have started in late 1956. Prior to those years, the models usually started with “S-” or “F-” and were followed by 4 digits. So if you find a shoe with that pattern of model number, you know it is 60+ years old. Nice find.
For non-Imperial line models, the first digit of the model number signifies the color if the digit is 2, 3, 4 or 8. For Imperials, the second digit is the color code. I see no pattern for models starting with 5, 6, or 7. Here is what I have gathered:
|3nnnn||Brown, Wine, Tan, Gold, Burgundy|
|93nnn||Imperial Brown (not black)|
|96nnn||Royal Imperial Black|
|97nnn||Royal Imperial Brown (not black)|
What about number 1? I haven’t seen any models starting with 1. Modern Florsheim shoe model numbers (2002+), usually start with a 1 though. Maybe that’s why they chose it.
The third digit is a style code. Again, this what I have seen in the wild:
|nn1nn||Loafer, Boot, Monk|
What about the shoe last? Allen Edmonds encodes the last into the model number, did Florsheim? I don’t believe so. I have found no mention of lasts in any Florsheim ads/materials.
This numbering schema was fairly consistent until the early 1990s. There was probably some guy on the product team making sure the model numbers conformed to this system. In the 90s, older model numbers started getting reused, Royal Imperials became Imperials. Model number anarchy! Why? I assume it was because that “guy” was probably laid off.
Country of Origin
Where was this shoe made? There is no “Made in…” label on the inside. If the shoe doesn’t have a country of origin, the shoe was most likely made in the USA. Made in India shoes will say “Made in India”. Florsheim also made shoes in Canada, Italy, Brazil, China, Australia, and Spain. So if you are listing a Florsheim shoe on eBay to sell, enter “United States” as the country of manufacture when listing a shoe without a “Made in …” label. Canadian Florsheim shoes have a maple leaf on the insole.
Names and Custom Model Numbers
Very occasionally you might see names and non-standard model number numbers in Florsheim shoes. These are made to order (MTO) models and are unique in some ways. I once purchased a split toe Imperial model with the model code of “3F-2397X” and the seller told me it was a special order from the Chicago Florsheim store.
Florsheim Customer Service
I have received vintage shoe information in the past from Allen Edmonds, Footjoy and Johnston and Murphy. Allen Edmonds even has many of their old catalogs freely available on the web. When I emailed Florsheim Customer Service to see if they could share any information on past models, they sent me this response:
I didn’t actually send a model number in my email so the customer service response made no sense but I got their point. I assumed they won’t help with my pre-1952 shoes as well. The message content is a non sequitur and ironic since Florsheim puts “Established 1892”, not “2002”, in their logo. But feel free to email Florsheim customer service and maybe you will get a positive response. If not, I am happy to help with vintage Florsheim questions, you can email me via the contact form or leave a comment below.
Shoes from the 50s and 60s had this style of print. This example is from a Florsheim Varsity 20686 produced in October 1965 (JF)
If the v-cleat is flush with outside of heel it was produced before 1973
Inset v-cleats indicate the shoe was made in 1973 or after. Florsheim Imperial 93602 from March 1980 (CA):
If your shoes have this theater like logo, they were produced after 1992. Florsheim Imperial 97625 from May 1996 (EG):
“Made in USA” started in 1993. This Florsheim Imperial is from January 1997 (AH):
“Assembled in USA” started in 1997. Florsheim Imperial 97625 from December 1998 (LI):
This logo and heel construction was introduced in 1997. Florsheim Imperial 97626 from August 1997 (HH):
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