Horween Shell Cordovan Wallets
I’m pleased to announce the addition of genuine Horween shell cordovan leather accessories to the Barrett Alley line. As one of the most expensive leathers in the world, shell cordovan has wonderful properties and a fascinating history. Shell cordovan comes from the horse, specifically, the highly dense subcutaneous layer of skin under the hindquarters. These two sides of the rump, or “shells” in tannery jargon, are prized for their softness and durability.
Horween is the only tannery in the US that still produces shell cordovan. During their 100 year history, Horween has perfected tanning the horse shell into a supple leather that ages gracefully and retains its softness and strength for decades. Cordovan requires a 6 month tanning process in order to allow the tannins to fully penetrate the dense fibers of the shell. Part of this process involves hot stuffing the leather with waxes and oils that return to a solid at room temperature. For shell cordovan shoes, the only care and maintenance required is an occasional buffing or brushing. This application of energy in the form of friction heats up these waxes and oils, bringing them to the surface, filling in any scuffs and leaving a soft shine. And, if you’re carrying a shell wallet, normal every day handling will be enough action to care for the leather automatically – no polishing necessary.
Though “cordovan” is often used to refer to shell cordovan, some shoe and accessory manufacturers use the term loosely to refer to any leather with a burgundy color. Therefore the full term “genuine shell cordovan” is often used today to specifically refer to the superior leather made from the shell of a horse.
Here’s a great 12 minute video that takes you through the process of making shell cordovan.
As well as another 4 minute video from Wolverine that documents the shell cordovan process.
And a good article on the Horween blog about the history of shell cordovan.