Shoo feathers and dimpled insoles

The Shooman

A Pretty Face
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The following is a post l made at Fedora Lounge and FNB forum:

What l would love to know is if there are any hand inseamed shoes with a hand carved feather that have dimples on the insoles. The J&M handmades, Cleverley bespokes, Vass, St Crispins etc have hand carved feathers but they do not have dimpled insoles, BUT the Santoni norvegese and bentivegna's have no feather and do have dimpled insoles. My Chinese made Marlboro handmade also has a dimpled insole and doesn't appear to have a feather either, and my local Pisa bespokes made by John also had a dimpled insole with NO feather. Could it be the only the featherless shoes have dimpled insoles when inseamed by hand? (Naturally a machine couldn't inseam by hand with no feather present).

Anyone have dimpled insoles with hand carved feathers?

Anyone have a norwegian constructed Santoni (similar looking to a simple version of basic norvegese like inseaming with a feather) that has no dimples on the insole? If yes, this provide the answer l have been looking for. I do feel almost convinced that featherless non blake hand inseamed insoles have dimples!!!

A dimpled insole on my Santoni norvegese (haha, it is an old pic l made years ago)
Dimpled%20insole%204_zpspipn3ptq.jpeg


The dimpled insole of my Chinese made Marlboro handmades (obviously has no feather)
Dimpled%20insole%205_zpslbb8arsm.jpg


The dimpled insole of my Pisa bespoke made without a feather.
Dimpled%20insole%206_zpsr23k8aju.jpg


Believe me, the dimples are much more prominent than the pictures show. I love nothing more than a good bunch of dimples on me insoles.
 
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Vass and SC both have dimples insoles except they are well covered by full length sock liners.

Norwegian sewn shoes also have dimples insoles tho less prominent and more toward the edge.
 
I have checked my Vass numerous times for dimples and had never really felt any, but l just checked again carefully and do feel some slight dimples, but they are not too pronounced. This is very interesting.

My various early 1940's vintage shoes never had dimples either.
 
Its not pronounced due to the full sock liner (usually ~1mm thick) and/or your shoes have not enough wear in them.

My conjecture is that dimples are created from threads pulling inside insole feathers down when hand inseaming. Deeper the inside/outside feather the deeper the insole dimples. Norwegian welt dimples are less apparent due to lack of outside feathers. Just my conjecture.

Vintage shoes, if RTW, are most likely Goodyear welted.
 
Vintage shoes, if RTW, are most likely Goodyear welted.

My understanding from my research and conversations with shoomen was that hand welting started to be phased out from the mid 1940's, and by the late 1950's most shoe factories were making goodyear welted shoes. I have several 1941/42 Army shoes and all have non dimpled insoles, and they should not have been goodyear welted. Remember that there used to be massive factories in the old days and it would have been because they needed more people to do the labour intensive hand welting.
 
Hmm really? 1940s? Thats the peak of WWII and most established firms should if not alreaady be making GYW shoes under army contracts, e.g., C&J, Trickers, etc.
 
Hmm really? 1940s? Thats the peak of WWII and most established firms should if not alreaady be making GYW shoes under army contracts, e.g., C&J, Trickers, etc.

o.k, what l will do is email various shoe firms like lobb, c&j etc and see when they went from hand welted to machine welted. From my understanding the early goodyear welting machines never did the inseaming, they were more basic because they never actually welted and gemmed a shoe. Varous old timers who worked in shoe factories told me that in Australia much of the hand welting disappeared in Oz during the 1950's, and 1940's in the U.S. The way l see it was that the goodyear machine invented in the late 1800's was a basic sewing machine but not a welting and gemming machine. Could it have sewed welts onto hand carved feathers?...maybe, but l doubt it because it would have been too dangerous and clumsy without a special welt guider to feed the welt through. So why was it called a goodyear welt machine? I think it was because it was a basic outsole stitcher that sewed welts to the outsole/midsoles, but not an inseamer.

Funny enough, my old ltalian shoe maker also told me that during the 1950's the rich people wanted factory made shoes made by machine and snubbed handmade shoes, and the largest group of people buying handmade shoes were the more poor people. How and why? The factories paid large amounts of money for machines to make shoes which were extremely rare in the old ltalian villages where people were poor and paid very low wages, so the mark-ups for really clean machine made shoes got a premium sales price over the more rugged handmade shoes made by peasants. The clean and clinical factory made shoes with a name were prized by the cashed up people.
 
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Maybe they used the older GYW method where insole edge is split and turn up and glued to the gemming strip. JM Weston established in 1890s and went GYW right away using the older method. Even Blake stitching machines has been around since 1860s?

The mechanization and industrialization of shoemaking firms was largely completed before 1900s as I've been told. Hand welted army boots? Meh. Seen old pictures of C&J making army field shoes? It's all ladies as men were going to war.

Italians are different and can't afford machiens or industrialized shoemaking for one reason or the other and then they end up outsourcing most of the shoemaking to Asia back in the 70s.
 
Lets ask some old shoe making firms and try to get some solid answers `eh. Loose talk baffles brains.
 
Crockett & Jones started to do GYW in 1890s according to their website.
Tricker's probably migrated to GYW before they moved to the current location in 1900s.
Alden started in 1880s after the shoemaking has been well mechanized by GYW.
Same with JM Westin, they started doing old fashioned GYW.
Skip John Lobb RTW. They initially outsourced to C&J, then to EG, then bought out EG resulting in the exodus/creation of the current EG.

Your history might be couple decades off the mark; shoemaking were mechanized/industrialized before 1900.

At 1945, US has about 8M troops deployed in WW2, each men were issued two pairs of boots, lasting from 5 months to a year. That type of production scale cannot be achieved with hand sewn welted or even hand made stitched down construction. Thus, early 1940s service shoes/boots (US/UK) being hand welted is improbable. Even WW1 service boots were machine sewn and nailed w/ cleats in US and sold into Europe.

That said, I have little doubt that aristocrats could've been wearing their bespoke boots when they go onto the field.
 
One thing l always try to do is solid research to try and find out the facts as best as l can. I recall Bengal Stripe and the legendary last maker to R.M.Williams also saying similar things to what l have been saying.

O.k, l need to find out the facts for myself directly from the companies. Could it be that you are right and me, the local Oz shoemakers, Bruce Millar and Bengal Stripe etc are all wrong? Maybe, but hopefully we will find out so we can have some definite answer soon.

I asked the following companies:

Edward Green
Church's
Barker
C & Jones
Alfred Sargent
Cheaney
Loake
Trickers
Grenson
 
The first response from Barker shoes:



It’s reasonable to assume by the 1940’s at the latest, Barker Shoes had stopped Hand Sewing Welts along with other manufacturing.

Kind Regards,
Lauren Austin
"


The Edward Green response looks like they had stopped hand welting only decades ago also, but they are going to try and investigate some more for me.

I think Bengal Stripe must know what he is talking about when I recall he also said the 1940's.

Lets see what the other companies say. Hopefully they write back soon. I am willing to bet they will say the 1940's like all the industry people have told me, and 1950's for Oz (we are behind the times).
 
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Of course EG can claim that; they had a bespoke service ran by Gaziano before he sets up his own shop! And they could still claim hand made as some of their shoes have hand sewn uppers, e.g. Dover.

With that logic, Tricker's still hand welt/inseam their shoes even today since they still have their bespoke service.
Or JM Weston could still claim hand inseaming as they do hand inseam their Hunt Norwegian sewn derby.
Or LV could claim they still handwelt their shoes as shown in their brand concept videos.

But we the customers should be smart enough to understand that a small part of their services do not represent the vast majority of their products.
 
Of course EG can claim that; they had a bespoke service ran by Gaziano before he sets up his own shop!

I specified rtw shoes, so they can't make that claim at all. Also: didn't E.G hand welt their top draw range in the 80's? If so they could have mislead us and tried to say that they stopped gemming their shoes in the 80's, but l don't think E.G or these companies are trying to be deceptive or hide anything.


With that logic, Tricker's still hand welt/inseam their shoes even today since they still have their bespoke service.

I believe Trickers do goodyear welted bespoke shoes so l doubt they wouldn't be able to make that claim either.

There are no tricks and exceptions here chogall, it has been commonly known that gemming and machine inseaming became popular in the 1940's - 1950's with most shoe factories. The factories of Barker and Edward Green are just confirming what everyone else is basically saying. I don't think these companies are trying to hide anything from us or deceive us about this. Maybe you think they are all wrong or misleading us, but l don't get that impression.

Trickers are now hunting down the info and will hopefully get back to me soon.


Here is what Edward Green told me via email:

"We think that the introduction probably took place in the 1950s but as you can imagine, nobody is around to be able to pin down exactly".

kind regards

Euan
 
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Tricker's hand sewn welt their bespoke shoes.
I don't know much about the old EG Top Drawer that was suspended after they renewed their bespoke operations.

My points being, most shoemakers were well industrialized and mechanized and most vintage shoes you can find are not hand sewn welted especially for army service shoes.
 
Tricker's hand sewn welt their bespoke shoes.

I see no mention of that on their website. I see vague terms such as "Then their shoes and boots are painstakingly constructed by hand around it", but this could be straight layman terms and not strict shoemaker terms being used, and l see a picture of a hand welted shoe on the bespoke section of the site, but l am not convinced about the hand welting because I hear the shoes are machine welted constructed, and the price for these shoes would certainly be around the price for a bespoke machine constructed shoe and not a bespoke hand welted shoe IMO. What l will do is find out by asking them and report back.


My points being, most shoemakers were well industrialized and mechanized and most vintage shoes you can find are not hand sewn welted especially for army service shoes.

O.k, what l will do is rip a pair of unworn 1942 army shoes open and see what l find. This should be interesting. Just gotta try and find where l put them. Give me tonight and tomorrow and l will report back. .

One would think they should be machine welted, but we'll see.
 
Check out Tricker's instagram feed; they have a machine to create outside insole feather, hand carve the inside feather to create the holdfast, and hand sewn.

That would be a direct way to solve the mystery! Which army's service shoes? Which theater? There's a lot of different service shoes/boots around, the famous ones are M-43 double buckle boots and M-48 combat boots. And of course, the standard issue dress bluchers and the cold weather quoddy moc boots.
 
Check out Tricker's instagram feed; they have a machine to create outside insole feather, hand carve the inside feather to create the holdfast, and hand sewn.

I am not sure how to find instagram feeds or know what those type of things are about, but what l did find was this:

Tricker's Bespoke Shoe Process
Tricker's Bespoke Shoe Process

But when we watch the video we come across a major contradiction. Why? Because it shows a hand welted shoe being done at 1:02 and then it shows a gemmed shoe at 1:10. So are Trickers hand welted or goodyear welted?? I am going to ask Trickers to be 100% certain.


That would be a direct way to solve the mystery! Which army's service shoes? Which theater? There's a lot of different service shoes/boots around, the famous ones are M-43 double buckle boots and M-48 combat boots. And of course, the standard issue dress bluchers and the cold weather quoddy moc boots.

I'll get back to this later.
 
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Nice video; didn't know why they mixed bespoke and RTW making clips in the same video. :S
 
Hey chogall, check back in a couple of hours, the big moment will be here where l reveal if my 1942 army shoo is goodyear welted or hand welted. Truly, there is no reason why army shoes shouldn't be hand welted because army shoos are no different from everyday people's shoos. Why? Because people are people regardless of whether it is for army or civilians....shoos need to be worn and demand is simply demand regardless of what purpose the footwear is for. The army shoos l have is office wear for women....all leather heels and all.

This exact shoo is gonna be ripped apart in about 2 hours time.
Army%20shoe%201942%20%209_zps5v710kxb.jpg
 
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Hey chogall, guess what? I took my 1942 army shoo apart. What did l find? Drum roll.......



















































I found it was hand welted with a hand carved feather just like with Vass. No jokes. No gemming or anything.

I'll try and post a pic another day when l have more time.
 
Pics later on.For now here is Grenson's response to when they stopped making hand welted shoos:


"We do not have access to an exact date at this moment in time but we do believe it to have been in the mid to late 60’s.

We still do offer it as a part of our bespoke range upon request"
 
I see no mention of that on their website. I see vague terms such as "Then their shoes and boots are painstakingly constructed by hand around it", but this could be straight layman terms and not strict shoemaker terms being used, and l see a picture of a hand welted shoe on the bespoke section of the site, but l am not convinced about the hand welting because I hear the shoes are machine welted constructed, and the price for these shoes would certainly be around the price for a bespoke machine constructed shoe and not a bespoke hand welted shoe IMO. What l will do is find out by asking them and report back.

While asking Trickers about their rtw range l got a completely different answer to my original question which happened to answer my question here about their bespoke range.

Fiona said the following:

"I've now heard back from Tricker's and apparently all their bespoke shoes are still hand welted so they never stopped. Hope that helps.

Best wishes

Fi
"


See, with some of the shoe companies you get seemingly 3rd party office boys and girls acting as middle people between the public and the manufacturer, so if the middleman doesn't really understand things too well it can be hard to get an answer without great difficulty.


Here is the response from C&J. It seems like many of the factories got the goodyear machines for stitching the welts onto outsoles in about 1910 - 1920 and then continued hand welting shoes until they got upgraded their goodyear machines in about the 40's - 50's and sometimes as late as the 60's (I have also heard this previously). See...the goodyear machines can vary according to my old observations...imo many seemed to be just outsole stitchers when the goodyear machinery was first invented, and in later years the machine inseaming became popular. BUT the indication l get is that the machine inseeming technology was around in the 1880's when the machines were first invented, however they weren't adopted until decades later in the 40's, 50's and 60's.

NOW...l need to write to the goodyear machine company and ask them about this question to know for sure. We can't afford to speculate as facts on these things, the forums do way too much of that. People may also ask why the factories weren't keen to invest in machine inseaming machinery before the mid 1900's, well...maybe the management wasn't keep to embrace technology on such a scale due to various reasons we can only speculate about.

NOW, l know it's fun to speculate, but lets get back to the facts so we don't go off the rails with wild talk. I did some wild guessing games here and let my hair down and had a bit of fun, but now it's time to reign it in and get serious again.

"Dear Sir,

Thank you for your email. The Goodyear welted stitcher (Hand guided machine stichting of the welt) was introduced into our factory around 1910-20, although I believe there was still an amount of hand welting that continued for a number of years during the integration.

We do not have a definitive date, but we have not offered full bespoke shoes from Northampton for at least the last 50/60 years.

Kind regards
James Fox"
 
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Might be better asking museums and historians instead of manufacturers; the former seeks truth in history and the latter is focused on marketing/branding/making sales.

Still waiting for the picture; I know you've always had trouble w/ electronics.
 
Might be better asking museums and historians instead of manufacturers; the former seeks truth in history and the latter is focused on marketing/branding/making sales.

I was thinking this exact thought the other day, thanks for reminding me.


Still waiting for the picture; I know you've always had trouble w/ electronics.

I have taken photos the other day and they were blurry, so now l am going to try to take them again. Then it will take almost an hour to upload the few pics and then l need to do a screen print and post them. The photos will be half size, so l hope they work out.

O.k, it's just past 5am and l have extra time to do a few things, so i'll try it now.

Late edit = some half size pics will be coming within the next hour. I woke up that all my previous pics were blurry because l used my camera wrong.

When l see my tech man l will get a new photo program so l can post normal pictures.
 
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Here is the inside of the 1942 army shoe showing the hand inseaming to a hand carved feather. Notice no white canvass usually placed over a plastic feather GLUED/GEMMED to the insole like with goodyear welted shoes.

6e18deba-ec9a-4a46-aebc-dbc9a836c30f_zpseo09whyx.jpg


456fe5b6-137e-41e4-b540-45bc352b8cdf_zpsigcbusnw.jpg


440c277a-29ff-4d80-b186-ade57acc080c_zpsebnpae7y.jpg


Below,

- notice how the insole has been nailed to the last because the insole has a hole in it.
- notice how the feather has been carved out like how it is typically with a Vass shoe with NO white gemmed feather.
- mashed cork to fill up the carved out leather needed to create the feather. The problem with mashed up cork is that it can sometimes crumble up and move to the sides of the shoe, but this does not always happen. Some top shoemakers are known to use felt instead of cork such as Cleverley and my local maker. Btw, my local maker never has used a feather.
24f73919-d2e5-4cfe-9766-f32f1f233db3_zpsf9a2kofa.jpg


10e28846-7321-447e-9603-85a399b3b381_zpsq1xmllec.jpg


Here is an Edward Green goodyear welted shoe with machine inseaming to a plastic feather covered in white canvass that is both gemmed (see the white canvass that is gemmed/glued). Notice the GEMMING FAILURE which occurred within 5 years, and belongs to Simon Crompton. The plastic feather has lifted off and the white canvass also lifted off. The factory stuck it back down, but it shows a weakness in the method. And assuming thew plastic feather eventually corroded and a new one was replaced by the factory, one/me would think the manufacturer would need to hand welt the upper to the gemming because the machines wouldn't have much to grip onto because the upper had previously been trimmed down, so trying to run the shoe back through the factory process would be very tricky, so l would imagine that after the plastic feather breaks/corrodes that the shoe would be considered unrepairable by the factory despite whether it could be repaired again because the factory would not want to risk damaging the shoe by an attempted repair. See...imo it is going to be impossible to keep the upper tight against the last while stitching the welt back onto the upper without having to do it all by hand.

856689a3-a17e-4177-9df9-1bb548db1a0b_zpslpg2pmql.jpg


Once again, a proper hand welted shoe with hand carved feather. This is how the army shoe above was made. See, no white stuff.
Hand%20welted%20shoe_zpsgntuuzct.jpg


Many shoes don't suffer gemming failure, but it is still a common occurance according to a factory l spoke to. They said it is a common occurance after about 7 years because water and salt gets in the shoe. Various leading cobblers also told me that are often repairing shoes that suffer gemming failure, and THAT is why gemming tape was so popular in the old days.

And, observing ebay shoes one will often see gemming failure in shoes as can be observed by the lumpy upper that doesn't go smoothly along the welt. I would be willing to bet this is gemming failure, but don't expect folks at S.F to ever believe or see it. I see various shoes they post with apparent gemming failure, but they are none the wiser and think it doesn't exist. HA!

(picture not able to upload at the moment)
 
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Very interesting!

That's actually a lot of cavity for hand carved insoles. Perhaps machine turned/carved?

Tack holes at insole bottoms happens with GYW machine as well.

Last picture from Cleverley?
 
Very interesting!

That's actually a lot of cavity for hand carved insoles. Perhaps machine turned/carved?

It looks like it was done by hand, l can see the individual marks where one of those leather digging tools was used (forget the name of it, but l have used them in the past).

The tools would have been similar to these l would guess (see the marks on the insole closely)
Leather%20etching%20tool%201_zpsxdcy9qce.jpg

Leather%20etching%20tools_zpsm1awcqw9.jpg


Tack holes at insole bottoms happens with GYW machine as well.

Yes of course.


Last picture from Cleverley?

Gaziano & Girling bespoke.
 
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The reasons I suspect that Army shoes is machined turned up instead of being hand carved.

1. The uniform cavity on the bottom of the insole. Hand carved insole usually won't have that uniform insole cavity, suggesting the "holdfast is turned-up. It could be that you didn't remove enough cork to show the difference.
2. Thickness of the insole compare to the thickness at the holdfast. Hand carved insole's holdfast can only be as thick as the middle of the insole. Instead the picture has a clearly protruding holdfast, suggesting turned-up instead of carved.
3. Width of the holdfast. It barely has any width as opposed to many hand-carved holdfast.

Here's a picture of a hand sewn welted shoes from West End maker. Felt filler. Note the width of holdfast is wider than welt, middle of the insole is not concave or has cavity and is as thick as the holdfast.
12383499_686640548105220_555267131_n.jpg


Here's a picture of a French maker. Cork filler. Note again the width of the holdfast being as wide as the welt and the thickness of the insole as thick as the holdfast and the clearly visible inseaming at the inside feather.
17 - 0TGnqAf.jpg


Same thing here from an Eastern EU maker. Cork filler. Note the clearly visible and shallow inseaming at the inside feather; also the holdfast is only as thick as insole in the middle and as wide as the welt.
27.jpg


Here's another Eastern EU maker. Cork filler. Again note the width of the holdfast, clearly visible inseaming, and the thickness at the middle of insole being as thick as the thickness of the holdfast.
37.jpg
 
Might get back to this thread when l have more time. For now here is a goodyear welted shoe that has been rewelted to the plastic feather and gemming by hand (from Manfred's shoe lounge).

b4ffea2b-584a-4b99-960e-581a366bd646_zpsx01g2tye.jpg
 

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