A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Yin & The Yang: Black & Brown Hand-Grades from Crockett & Jones for Tom James

About 6 or 7 years ago, as I was just beginning to dabble in "high-end" men's shoes, I was able to pick-up two pair of Bartons, a captoe brogue from Crockett & Jones' handgrade line, re-badged for Tom James. This was one of Style Forum's more memorable feeding frenzies - C&J's handgrade line normally sells in $600-700 range, so pairs on sale for $150 are rare. For staple models like captoe brogues, wingtips, etc. - its basically unheard of.

The insole stamp.

I'm not entirely sure what prompted Tom James to unload their supply of C&J shoes - if I recall correctly, the company had decided to discontinue the sale of shoes made in England after failing to move them at the retail price. The sale included both benchgrade and handgrade models from C&J - and don't quote me on this, but I think ALL models were priced on sale at $150. $150 for C&J handgrades is ridiculous; $150 for C&J benchgrade models is pretty good too.

Black C&J Bartons for Tom James, 330 last.

C&J's handwritten size and last information.

At the time, I didn't have much of a collection. Aside from a few Paul Stuart Masterpieces from Benny's in Atlanta (also $150 at the time), as well as a few pairs picked up at the absolutely insane Paul Stuart sample sale, the C&Js were some of my first purchases of shoes made in Northampton.

An overhead profile shot of C&Js elegant, round-toed 330 last - 
a predecessor to the more elongated and pointed 337 last.

A close-up of the somewhat bland rams-head medallion.

I've never really acquired much of a taste for black shoes, but this seemed like the perfect time to pick up a pair to have for interviews/semi-formal events, etc. The black Bartons remain my only black shoes, all these years later (well, I also own a pair of spade-sole Johnston & Murphy Handmade 100s, but really that's it). Comparing the two shoes, its easy to see how much more play the antique chestnut Barton's have gotten over the years.

Antique chestnut Bartons by C&J for Tom James, 330 last.

In hindsight, I'm still not sure if the C&Js 330 handgrade last fits true to size. Unfortunately, there wasn't much time to pick up a test case since the shoes were going so fast. I'd say the shoes were about a half size smaller than comparable C&Js, probably because of the stubby last shape. The shoes do fit, and have gradually become more comfortable over the years, so I was probably somewhere right between a a US 10D and 10.5D. But a 10.5D may have been just a touch too roomy, so it was probably a wash in the end.

Of course, I'm looking forward to the next 6 or 7 years with my Bartons.

Tom James' logo stamp on the waist of the sole. 
The shoes featured typical C&J handgrade characteristics such as the channeled soles and ever-so-slightly bevelled waist.

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