What's new

Vintage leather strops

I've got one or two red imps in storage, can't recall if they're 700's or 700c's. Now I'm hoping I've got a C to compare with. Never paid attention to the C, now I'm wondering what it signified... Maybe cordovan vs standard shell?


edit: Going through my emails, I've purchased 4 700c's between 2010 and 2020 and one 700 and one that I can't tell from the thumbnail in the email... Also sold at least two of the 700c's. Still, most likely what I've got in storage are C's. Fingers crossed.

(Checked some old photos and one is for sure a base-700, hoping there's a C in there too, but I did sell a C about a year ago, so that may have been the one I'm thinking of).

I don't think any are Cordovan. They are all Shell though I believe.
The 700c's seem like they went through a roller to compress and harden the top surface.
They behave identical in use, same thickness, same material just a slightly different treatment.
 
0DDC9194-C09E-4C74-9B28-1253592EDE1B.jpeg

Mail call! I just received this Columbia strop and sanded her down with 400-800-1000 grit. Here she is with leather conditioner applied.
 
Nice score BBS Kirk!! I seem to be developing this compulsion to buy more vintage strops.

I don't think any are Cordovan. They are all Shell though I believe.

Google foo says...Cordovan is named for Cordoba Spain. Looks like the 2 names may be interchangeable unless it was shell from Cordoba.

I've seen a couple Red Imps come up for sale now and then but I've been passing on them because I didn't think they were shell. I've never touched one and it's hard to tell from pictures. You would think that if Red Imps were shell, they would capitalize on that fact by embossing that on the strop. It would a great marketing tool. Bottom line, I need one!

Currently nurseing a Sears Craftsman shell strop back to health. The thing I don't like about it is natural colored ....uuuhhhHH! Its in pretty good shape but the backside is perfect. I wonder if I can change that by dyeing it?
 
Cordovan leather is a process of treating leather, not the leather itself.
Any leather can be treated in the Cordovan process.
Shell is a cut from just below the skin on the rump of the horse.
I have seen old ads that stated Red imp was a Shell leather and the 700c was there top strop from Certifyd.
 
Nice score BBS Kirk!! I seem to be developing this compulsion to buy more vintage strops.



Google foo says...Cordovan is named for Cordoba Spain. Looks like the 2 names may be interchangeable unless it was shell from Cordoba.

I've seen a couple Red Imps come up for sale now and then but I've been passing on them because I didn't think they were shell. I've never touched one and it's hard to tell from pictures. You would think that if Red Imps were shell, they would capitalize on that fact by embossing that on the strop. It would a great marketing tool. Bottom line, I need one!

Currently nurseing a Sears Craftsman shell strop back to health. The thing I don't like about it is natural colored ....uuuhhhHH! Its in pretty good shape but the backside is perfect. I wonder if I can change that by dyeing it?

Thanks a lot! I’m very happy with this one. It is prolly my favorite out of my 3 vintage strops. Please share pics of your new vintage strop.
 
Most vintage strops are very good if you can find one in good condition. The quality of leather is excellent.
You may need to do extensive work to restore one or just a little work if the leather is in good condition.
I just received another Red Imp two days ago.
Sellers photos.


The filthiest canvas I have ever seen!!
Needed lots of hydration, a light sanding, double soaking of canvas with scrubbing but now..

proxy.php


proxy.php


proxy.php


proxy.php


proxy.php


proxy.php



My forth and last Red Imp

Beautiful restore, @stone and strop. Very nice work.
 
Shell refers to where on the horse the leather comes from. Cordovan strops are typically (always maybe?) shell, and refer to a process where a lot of oils and waxes are forced into the leather during processing/treating and make a very slick, waxy surface. There's an interesting article on the history of cordovan. I think I found it (link below). Basically, it used to be a much thicker product when strops, saddles, etc were a big product. Then when the market fell out on that stuff, the technique evolved and it got converted to shoe leather and they started massively compressing it to make the 1-2mm thick stuff we know as cordovan today.

 
I was pretty sure some cordovan leather being produced was not Shell.
Horween has "Essex" which is horse but not Shell and is treating in the Cordovan method.


I was sure someone was doing this with bovine leather as well but haven't looked in a while.
Mostly it is Shell.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LJS
Another thing I forgot to mention.
Not sure if all the 700's come with it or not but the Irish linen is a hose/tube. They work just fine and are maybe even a little finer in use but I don't like the way they "buckle"
I have a mint one downstairs I don't use, I think came with my 700, switched it out for a full thickness from another vintage strop.
The 700c comes with a full thickness linen/cotton.
My favorite strops for sure.

There is a Red Imp on the bay (current auction so won't post and ridiculous price) but its a 700 and it has the solid nice secondary so not sure why some have the Irish linen.
All are made by Certifyd so just puzzling.
 
Horween has "Essex" which is horse but not Shell and is treating in the Cordovan method.

Yes, this is what I think Tony uses and jokingly calls Notovan :)

Someone out there probably does make a chrome tanned shell, but true cordovan shell is made via older processing techniques and tradition. As you guys sleuthed out, originated in Cordoba Spain, but like often in history, it became the “name” for that type of leather product. I think 99.9% of the time if you see either Shell or Cordovan leather, they are interchangeable and talking about the same thing. Full name being shell cordovan. But I was wondering if maybe there was something different with the strops - given their age I am going to bet they are all proper shell cordovan wether they are marked just one or the other.

Now I am going to have to go see if anyone makes chrome tanned shells - you’ve piqued my curiosity.

 
I can't imagine the Red Imps are Cordovan.
I have a NOS one and it is not as soft or supple as Cordovan leather.
There is a distinct feel to Cordovan leather that the Imps do not have.
It is also VERY labor intensive so to make strops or something so utilitarian out of it would have been less likely.
 
Strops were one of the primary markets for shell cordovan for some time. I don’t have any red imps to say how they feel myself. Nakayama cordovan strop is nothing like my shoes which are supple as can be. I searched around and didn’t find any shells that were not vege tanned yet, but doesn’t mean they don’t exists. There is no one single cordovan process really, but the traditional methods do take time. That said, strops were a primary market for real shell cordovan for a long time. I think most commercial strop companies used leather jacks for consistency which gives a nice surface but does compress the leather. I kind of like jacked leathers myself but not everyone does. Anyway, hope I didn’t sound like I was arguing with you. I was just wondering what you considered to be different between shell and cordovan and your answer is that not all shell is processed cordovan style - I got it 👍
 
No, no worries at all.
I think you meant Kanayama's not Nakayamas.
I have two Kanayamas and they are Cordovan, even though he uses his own process which I don't believe to be nearly as long.
They have the same soft supple feel you would have in high quality shoes and the like. Almost like buttery plastic:)
I have rarely seen, if ever, Cordovan advertised in vintage strops although Horween did make some strops but not sure they were Cordovan.
Lots of advertised Shell for sure.
Russian tanning was huge in vintage strops. No idea what process that was:)
 
I have a handful of vintage cordovan labeled strops if memory serves. I might have sold them, but I'll check when I unpack my strops.

For sure Dubl Duck had some "cordovan" and I believe I had a number of russian cordovan strops as well.
 
I have a handful of vintage cordovan labeled strops if memory serves. I might have sold them, but I'll check when I unpack my strops.

For sure Dubl Duck had some "cordovan" and I believe I had a number of russian cordovan strops as well.
Would love to see them.
I remember the DD as well. Can't think of any others though.
 
Top Bottom