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  • Cantrell Boots

    Shoes, like muskets, are one of things we often have to make authenticity compromises with. Being pleasantly surprised with the work of a vendor had I previously not heard of, I figured I would try to bring a bit of attention to him.

    The short version: Cantrell Boots—unlike sutler row and even most of the regular top-tier vendors that campaigner-oriented folks prefer to get their “authentic” shoes from, Cantrell’s shoes actually look like period shoes. They are shaped properly, the craftsmanship is on par with Berg, and the communication is great.

    The long version: Encouraged by a thread on this forum a few months back I ordered a pair of Federal bootees and shortly thereafter a pair of Confederate shoes from Cantrell Boots. Jesse Lee provided detailed information on the shoes—provenance of the originals copied, notes on the differences between the types and thicknesses of leather used on each pair, the different leather treatments used, and the different construction techniques used on each pair, etc.

    Pattern – The most noticeable aspect of these shoes is the shape of the heels and soles. Unlike most other vendors, Cantrell produces shoes with a narrow sole and small tapered heel—about half the size of other reproduction shoes I’ve owned (yes, even from some highly recommended vendors) and much closer to the shape of period pieces. As per the original pairs copied, the heel is slightly smaller and the toe a bit more square on the C.S. shoes than on the Federal shoes. The C.S. shoes also ride much higher in the instep. The C.S. shoes have a very small counter and as Jesse Lee described, an oddly shaped vamp that required the stitching on the sides to be very short to allow a large enough opening to get your foot into. While he described the pattern as something a good cordwainer would find crude, I’ll never complain when somebody goes out of their way to accurately reproduce little details like that.

    Materials – These shoes are made from much thinner upper leather than most in the living history community would be used to. The leather is oak tanned and the thicknesses match the originals—appx. 3 or 4 ounce upper leather, and either several pieces of thick leather or numerous pieces of thinner leather for the heels as soles depending upon the original copied. Jesse Lee described the differing leather treatments used on the Federal and Confederate pairs, and even dyed the innersoles on the C.S. pair as per the original. The C.S. shoes were constructed with several very tiny iron rivets which he made to match. Jesse Lee even provided information on the glue recipe used in the C.S. shoes.

    Construction – Great work and faithful to the originals. The C.S. shoes are pegged a bit more crudely than the Federal pair, and include a wood pegged rather than nailed heel as per the original. A peg poked me in the foot while stumbling down a trail, but that’s not really something to complain about.

    Comfort – The leather being so thin these shoes are like slippers. The Federal pair required no break in time at all. The first time I put them on was at the beginning of a 6 or 7 mile hike on a particularly rocky portion of the Appalachian Trail and I had no problems whatsoever. After a few additional events with them they’re still doing great.

    http://www.cantrellboots.com/index.html

    Photos of the unworn C.S. shoes and now well-used Federal shoes are attached.

    -Craig Schneider
    Attached Files
    Craig Schneider

  • #2
    Re: Cantrell Boots

    Pardon the necro-post...
    Does anyone know if Jesse is still in business?
    Thanks!
    John Wickett
    Former Carpetbagger
    Administrator (We got rules here! Be Nice - Sign Your Name - No Farbisms)

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    • #3
      Re: Cantrell Boots

      I do not believe so. His shoes looked good, but they didn't last as long as my Missouri Boot and Shoe brogans.
      Jason David

      Peter Pelican
      36th Illinois Co. "B"
      Prodigal Sons Mess
      Old Northwest Vols.

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      • #4
        Re: Cantrell Boots

        Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately Jesse passed away a couple of years ago. He was a very nice person. I had the pleasure of talking to him several times.
        ~Marc Shaffer~

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        • #5
          Re: Cantrell Boots

          Originally posted by teufelhund View Post
          Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately Jesse passed away a couple of years ago. He was a very nice person. I had the pleasure of talking to him several times.
          So sorry to hear that!

          Thank you for the information, everyone! Sad news, but it is good to have the information.
          John Wickett
          Former Carpetbagger
          Administrator (We got rules here! Be Nice - Sign Your Name - No Farbisms)

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