While we are waiting for a North Korean nuclear attack, I have been working on shoes. Florsheim, Nettleton and Alden pairs. But that doesn’t mean I am not concerned about the North Korean nukes. I prefer not to die in an atomic fireball. In the spirit of a peaceful resolution that will work out for all parties, I promise that Kim Jong-un can have any of my vintage shoes in exchange for his weapons. That includes the ultra-rare forest green Imperial pair I have. It’s time for action. As Terri Nunn says, No More Words. I am not sure where I would store the weapons. My basement is already full of shoes. You know. And these are merely suggestions, not actual negotiations. Just so you know. I don’t want to be the third person convicted of violating the Logan Act.
With all that said, welcome to another post on vcleat.com. Long wing central. I had a start of a non-long wing post but I failed so its back to long wings. And Florsheim long wings. Predictable. I am obviously in a rut. But there are worse things, like nuclear armageddon. This pair of Florsheim shoes is the Royal Imperial model 97626 and were made in 1991. On the edge of vintage. I bought the pair on eBay and this was the listing photo:
The pair was misshapen and the edging was beaten up but otherwise were in good condition. The seller told me that the shoes were owned by her father and he wore them when he married her mother. But they later divorced and he said that the shoes outlasted the marriage. The shoes had limited wear on the soles and heels. I would guesstimate they were worn 15 to 20 times.
Here is my cheat sheet for restoring them:
- Wipe with a damp towel
- Brush the upper and welt
- Glycerin conditioning
- Saphir Reno’Mat (to remove yellow overspray, see below)
- One round of Venetian Shoe Cream
- One round of Collonil 1909 Burgundy Creme de Luxe
- One round of Allen Edmonds Black Premium Shoe Polish
- Brush and buff the upper
- Cordo-Hyde black 27″ shoe laces
- Lincoln Black Sole Edging
- One round of Allen Edmonds Black Premium Shoe Polish (on sole edge)
- One round of Alden black wax (on sole edge)
I decided to try glycerin treatment on the pair. I normally don’t use it but there was some recent discussions of the process on StyleForum. The main difference between this pair and the last Shell pair I tried it on was that this pair wasn’t stripped prior to the glycerin treatment. This Florsheim pair had the factory shell finish intact.
Prior to applying the glycerin, I cleaned the shoes and inserted shoe trees.
The glycerin/water mixture is applied to cloth strips which is then wrapped around the upper. Plastic wrap is applied to keep the wet cloth on the Shell surface.
When I unwrapped the shoes after eight hours, the shoes appeared a bit darker but not significantly so. They had dulled in color. There were a few areas of discoloration which didn’t concern me but there were also some raised spots on the outer left shoe which did. You can see them in this photo below.
I gave the shoes three days to completely dry out. After the pair dried, the discoloration was gone but the spots were still there but were lessened.
The pair had some yellow paint from the lining bleed onto the tongue. Which is odd. I had never seen that before. The yellow looked like it was applied to cover some burgundy over spray. I wasn’t sure if it was something that could be cleaned but I was able to remove it using Saphir RenoMat.
On day four, I looked up booking a room at the Ryugyong Hotel in case I needed direct talks but Expedia wouldn’t let me reserve one. So, I cleaned and conditioned the Imperials with Venetian Shoe Cream (VSC). If you haven’t used it, VSC does a good job cleaning and smoothing older shell.
I recently bought a jar of burgundy Collonil 1909 Cream DeLuxe and decided to give it a try on the pair. In the photo below, the pair looks a bit darker after one round of polish but I didn’t notice any change in color. It might be due to a difference in the lighting.
Another oddity about this pair is that it has seven nails in the sole instead of the distinctive five nails on every other Imperial. This is the second time I have seen that and the first time was only because it was pointed out to me in another eBay listing by a reader. (Seven nails? I know that is really shoe geeky. And sort of embarrassing to write about. But I had to. That one guy is nodding his head. Yes.). This pair had some quality control issues.
I finished the shoes with applying Allen Edmonds black polish to the brogued areas. If you look closely at the above photos, you can tell that Florsheim applied a darker finish or polish to those same areas. The black cream gives the color a deeper appearance.
What is my verdict on glycerin treatment of this pair? I don’t believe it was needed on this pair. It did do a good job of reshaping the shoes but applying some VSC with the back of a spoon might have had the same result. The small bumps were still there after a week but I assume they will lesson over time. My theory is that the finish on the shell had some gaps and that allowed the water to get behind the finish and raise the Shell in those spots. I have seen a few pairs were the Shell darkens in a blotchy manner when conditioner is used.
Below are a few more photos of the finished shoes. The red discoloring on the foot bed is from the glue Florsheim used. Its pretty common. Its not blood. The dad is still alive. So are we. For now. The offer stands.
Below is a photo of the same area with the water spots about 8 months later. At that point, the spots are almost invisible but they show up slightly in the photo. And yes, the shoes need some polishing to get rid of the wear marks.