Tuesday, December 16, 2014


There are so many production boots on the market today that pay homage to that bygone era of the 1930's through the 1950's we embrace so dearly ... for the classic American goods. Some are cookie cutter copies of other copies, while some are just down right clever designs that score big with collectors.

Sure, I could list a top ten - there are that many - but I'll pay tribute to the top three boots I feel capture the essence of this relatively simple and classic design. The brains behind these designs are clearly enthusiasts with the idea of creating something unique to an already super saturated market  - let's face it; the market was saturated even in the fifties. Using personal style and imagination, they've managed to create boots that will make collectors 65 years from now pay top dollar for at auction.

Without further delay ... #3


Tomonari Nishizaki and his partners at Attractions weren't screwing around when they set out to create their version of Vintage Engineer Boots. Out of the box, they immediately conjure up images from old department store mail-order catalogs. They kept the design as simple without going over the top tyring to add their own unatractive twist, thereby knockin' this one outta the park.

Montgomery Wards Blue Band grade from 1947

Source: Rocket-57

Clearly using original buckles from one of the best cobblers around, Okuyama (Hukurokuju), I'm left to wonder how much more involvement he has with these boots.

Brand: Attractions
  Lot 268 (Horse Butt) ¥78,000
  Lot 269 (Steerhide) ¥68,000
Sizes: 6-11(D)
Released: August 2014

Prime example of how these boots age. With the defalted, non-celastic toe box, these resemble something pulled from trunk sitting in an attic for over sixty years. This particular pair is Lot 269
#2 John Lofgren & Co. 

While distancing himself from the crowd, John took his boots to the next level by adding Goodyear storm welts. Something I haven't seen any other modern-day boot company tackle - another visually pleasing piece of attention-to-detail.

The heel/sole combination attributes of this footwear style are what really set the conditions of a really good looking pair. This is what frames the rest of the boot. John used a double mid-sole with a perfectly stacked heel capped with 5/8 inches of Vibram, totaling 1 5/8" - not too high and not disappointingly low.

The low rounded (non-steel) toe profile doesn't bear a modern-day "bump" or bulbous look found on lasts used by many of today's companies. John chose to stay consistent with the overall look of his 1950's inspired Engineer Boots and carved out a custom last desired by collectors; round and tapered in both height and width - no cookie cutter, off-the-shelf last here.

Brand: John Lofgren & Co.
Price: ¥107,784 - ¥118,584
Colors: Black (Horween CXL), Brown (Horween CXL), Cognac (Badalassi), Ortensia (Badalassi - sold out), Natural (Horween CXL - coming soon)
Sizes: 6-12
Released: 2012
E-mail: info@speedway-shop.com

It's obvious John put a lot of thought and energy into his boots. Combined with his great customer service, fast shipping and endless production of high-end clothing, this is a brand to keep at the top of your list. If these were ever lost or stolen, I wouldn't hesitate to order another pair.
#1 Mister Freedom® "Road Champ"

The Mister Freedom® Road Champ Boots pay homage to early century Engineers and have proven to be one of the best and unique designs on the market. Without having lost a bit of momentum since their release to the public back in 2009, these bad boys have been copied by many companies, but all have fallen short.

The leather on the entire boot is a thick cowhide that just feels like a high-quality leather. Dark brown in color, there is hint of a lighter brown undertone that slowly begins to appear more and more as the vegetable tanning and custom coloring begins to wear away. Just after a few days of continuous wear, it becomes clear that the soft toe box built around the custom, period-correct last begins to collapse into the desirable flat toe shape.

The thickness of the double leather soles and heels complement the boots just right with original Cat's Paw heels completing the package.

In my opinion, these boots are worth every single penny. When you wear them, you just know you are wearing a high quality, well thought out, custom-made pair of Engineer Boots. They are relatively light and I would not change one single thing on these boots.

Brand: Mister Freedom®
Model: Road Champ $949.95
Sizes: 7-12
Released: 2009

To see some examples of how these boots age, check out an old post entitled, "The Many Faces Of Mister Freedom "Road Champ" Engineer Boots here

Monday, December 15, 2014


Colonel Homer L. Litzenberg, Commanding Officer, 7th Marines, addressing his troops on Christmas Day, 1950.


Friday, December 12, 2014


"Peterman Shoes"

I can't in good conscience categorize 1940's / 1950's Chippewa Engineer Boots as rare and highly desirable anymore. They are everywhere and are more commonly found for sale than any pair of Vintage Engineer Boots. These Peterman Engineer Boots, on the other hand, epitomize midcentury cool and are what we come to covet in old 1950's biker or JD flicks and clips. They are pretty rare, show the perfect amount of patina and wear, and sold for an unbeatable price.


Brand: Peterman Shoes
Circa: 1950's
Color: Brown
Size: 8 1/2D
Length: 11 1/8"
Width: 4 1/8"
Soles/Heels: Biltrite
Leather: Oil Tanned Cowhide
Hardware: Brass buckles with quadrupal shank rivets
Sold for: Best offer from $1,199
Seller: saulwaldo123

**It's worth bookmarking this seller. He deals with a ton of Vintage Engineer Boots and doesn't use false, persuasive key words to try and sell his items.

The profile on these boots are amazing! The tapered vamp, flat squarish toe box that overhangs the welt and stacked Woodsman heels are characteristics that cause me to lose sleep at night. If these were were half to a full size smaller, I'd have immediately paid the initial asking price. Some lucky fella out there is rockin' one of the nicest pair of boots offered on eBay in some time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


I started making belts and wallets several years ago, because I was fascinated by the challenging craftsmanship involved. Perhaps it's time try my hand at making Engineer Boots.

Pictured is the start of a project using Horween and Horsehide lining.


Monday, December 8, 2014


Hi, I really enjoy your blog and your Instagram. I'm really intrigued by the Red Wing 9268's. Where online can you purchase the 9268 and the 2268's to come to the U.S.? Thank you for your help and keep being awesome and making awesome posts :)

- Nick

 Hi Nick,

Thank you for the e-mail. There has been a tremendous amount of interest since I posted about the 9268's (here) and I regret to inform you that they are only available in Japan. Having said that, there is a simple way to get your hands on them using the Japan Auction Agency proxy service. I've been a customer of theirs for many, many years and have never had any problems with them. Their fees are reasonable and you get the items you normally could only wish for since they were out of reach. Simply register with their site, go to Google Japan or Rakuten, choose the shop that has your size, fill in the info and within a week or two you'll have your item.

Here's an e-mail I just received from a VEB Reader who just purchased his 9268's through JAA:

Hi John,

Just wanted to say thank you for your help the other day. I just received my 9268s from Japan, they're awesome. JAA was easy, they were helpful, and they were fast.

Thanks again!

I hope this helps you along with what you're looking for.



Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller inspecting the guard on the occasion of his promotion to Brigadier General, circa 1951.

"Goodnight, Chesty, wherever you are!"


Sunday, December 7, 2014


On December 7, 1941, over 2,400 Americans lives were lost, 8 ships were sunk and close to 200 aircrafts were lost when our nation sustained one of the worst attacks in its history at Pearl Harbor - 73 years later, American's vividly remember this fateful day.


Saturday, December 6, 2014


The Mister Freedom® Hall Of Shame Part Deux

Unfortunately, there have been some new additions since the first iteration of these shameless copies of original Mister Freedom® pieces.

It's one thing to pay tribute to a brand, but for these companies to create carbon copies from a brand celebrated for producing unique and collectible pieces displays their lack of creativity and imagination.

 The 2009 Bronco Champ vs 2014 copy by T-Bird (Paris, France)
"Most people don't know how to be original, so copy cats are to be expected. But one thing will always be true, you can never duplicate an original." -Unknown
2011 NOS Chambray vs 2012 copy by Uwe Van Afferden 
2008 Utility Chambray vs 2012 copy by Shirt by Shirt

Thursday, December 4, 2014


This will be a series of posts intended to shed some light on the age of the boots you just spent part of next month’s mortgage on, that “super rare” pick at the local thrift shop or the “be all, end all” pair just posted for sale on an online auction. Some will be pleasantly surprised at what they learn and some will find the information a huge disappointment – those super rare 1940’s “Horsehide” Chippewa’s may not be what you think after all.


Before diving into the age and value of your particular pair of Chippewa Engineer Boots, let’s cover a little background on one of America's oldest footwear companies.

Early settlers arrived in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin in 1836, and that same year the American Fur Trade Company commissioned brothers Lyman and Truman Warren to construct a sawmill. This ushered in the lumber era, which became a major catalyst to the community’s commercial growth, boosting the population.

Chippewa Lumber and Boom Company - the largest sawmill under one roof in the world

During logging operations a large farming community was built up around the City, and a number of shoe factories were established to support labor and answer the mail for necessary heavy-duty outdoor footwear, namely Chippewa Shoe Manufacturing Company, Weyenberg Shoe Company, Hand Made Shoe Company, Hartman Shoe Company, Independent Shoe Company, and Mason Shoe Company.

For 75 years lumber was the major industry in Chippewa Falls. After the lumber industry declined, the town was able to survive because of its early diversification of economy. Mason Shoe Manufacturing and the industry with the longest continuing history in the city (1867), Leinenkugel Brewing Company, are the two business that remain successful to this day.

The vacant Chippewa Shoe Factory, once called an eye-sore, was converted into low and moderate-income apartments.

To be continued ...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Hi John,

Great blog with lots go info. My interest in engineer boots started in the late eighties when I began to ride motorcycle and reading Easyrider magazine. At the time I was intrigued with the ads in there for boots. There were small black and white ads and easy rider brand boots. Do you know who made the boots were they from good quality . I did not had the funds nor the balls to order them then.


Pre-Red Wing ad

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the e-mail.  Easyriders Nasty Feet Boots were produced by Chippewa as early as the late 1960 and up until the 1980's. At this point, when it was time for Easyriders to renew their contract, Chippewa was asking for too much scratch along with personality differences between the two top dogs, so Easyriders awarded the contract to Red Wing.

It began when Easyriders wanted to branch out and market their own riding boots. Who better to take on this task than two reputable boot companies with decades of motorcycle bootmaking history? These boots carried on the appeal of both Chippewa and Red Wings, but Easyriders took it a step further by adding a knife pocket on one boot shaft and a money pocket on the other. This wasn't offered by any other boot company at the time (Wesco added this to their list of options just some years ago) . Nasty Feet's were marketed as "Tough Guy" boots.

Chippewa via Hukurokuju
Red Wing


Monday, December 1, 2014


The following is an awesome comment from Craig on an old VEB post.

"It was great to find this on your blog! The female model is actually my mother in law who worked for Buegeleisen as a secretary but was asked to model a jacket this once. My wife still has the jacket."

Thanks for taking time out to post this, Craig! I'm sure a lot of readers will be pleased to read your comment.

An upcoming episode of American Pickers will show some Buco photos I provided that may include this one.



Betty Grable visiting with Marines, circa 1942.