Meermin MTO Cap toe in brown Shell Cordovan Double
Shell cordovan (or cordovan) is a type of leather commonly used in shoemaking. Cordovan is an equine leather made from the fibrous flat muscle (or shell) beneath the hide on the rump of the horse.The leather derives its name from the city of Cordoba, Spain, where it was originally prepared by the Moors. Horween Leather Company is known for its production of Shell Cordovan, and the Chicago Tribune called it the "Cordovan capital of the world".
Production: After removal from the animal, the hide is measured from the root of the tail 18 inches forward on the backbone. The hide is cut at right angles to the backbone and the resulting pieces termed a "front" (the forward part) and the "butt". The term cordovan leather applies to the product of both the tanned fronts and tanned butts, but is especially used in connection with the term galoshes, meaning the vamps or boot-fronts cut from the shell of the butt.
After being tanned, leather from the "front" is typically used in the fabrication of gloves, or blackened, to be used in the tops of shoes. The "butt", after tanning, is passed through a splitting-machine which removes the grain, or hair side, revealing what is termed the "shell". The close fibres of the shell result in a smooth and pliable leather used almost exclusively in the manufacture of shoes and watch straps, although another use is for the manufacture of finger protection tabs for recreational archery, where it is prized for its toughness, longevity, and protective qualities.
Caring for Shell Cordovan: There is no better method than ... The Mac Method *
Thanks to the inherent beauty and durability of shell cordovan leather, proper care is not difficult. Adhering to the steps outlined below will ensure top-notch maintenance of your shoes, allowing them many, many years for your enjoyment:
After each wear, wipe down the shoes with a damp cloth.
Using a horsehair brush, brush each shoe vigorously for 2-3 minutes.
Using a cotton cloth, buff the shoes to a high shine.
Use paste wax sparingly, only when the shoes are in great need. We recommend paste wax only after every 20 wears. When you must use paste wax, use a very small amount!
Do not use crème wax.
If the shoes get wet, do not attempt to dry with a hair dryer or other heating source. Instead, stuff with shoes with newspaper, turn them on their sides, and allow them to sit overnight. The next day, remove the papers and perform steps 1-3 above.
If water welts appear from exposure to water, brush vigorously with a horsehair brush. Welts will usually disappear over time.
To guard against water damage, apply Alden Leather Defender.
Other beneficial products for your shell cordovan are Venetian Shoe Crème and Saphir Renovateur. Both should be used sparingly.
Any scratches to the shell cordovan leather should be vigorously brushed with a horsehair brush. Use a bit of paste wax if the scratch is very deep.
Maintain the shoes with a proper heel and sole dressing.
Do not wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Allow the shoes a day of rest, with cedar shoe trees inserted to absorb moisture.
* Those of us who frequent online footwear forums such as Ask Andy About Clothes and the Style Forum Alden thread are well aware of the enigmatic man known as Mcarthur. Mcarthur has arguably the largest collection of Shell Cordovan Alden's on the internet (possibly the World) and is known for having the best shine on his shoes. A man of impeccable taste, few words, and many argyle socks, Mcarthur has made his mark on the online shoe community in many ways
Since cordovan shell retains waxes and oils so well it does not need to be conditioned very often (some would say the cordovan shell never needs conditioning). However, all oils oxidise over time and should be replenished as needed.
I have found the best way to do this is to apply a little cream polish every now and then (about every 15 to 20 times the shoes are worn). The rest of the time I just brush them very well, and smooth out any scuffs with the round side of a tablespoon.
Brushing cordovan shell with a horsehair brush (ironic I know) vigorously is about the best thing you can do for it. The heat from the friction helps soften the waxes and oils in the cordovan shell and basically allows you to polish your shoes with the ingredients already in your shoes.
You are either in bed or in shoes, so it pays to invest in both” John Wildsmith