These boots may not look like much, but to a collector they’re a holy grail. They were made by the late Ray Jones of Lampasas Texas, perhaps the best bootmaker who ever lived.
Jones made boots for working cowboys, and these things are built like a tank. They’re heavy and solid, and I can’t imagine them ever wearing out. I was fortunate to get this pair (one of three) from a collector. They are several decades old.
Jones was a stubborn cuss who only used one stitch pattern for first-time customers. If you bought several pairs over the years, he might eventually consider using another pattern on the top (“shafts”). He also used white piping on the side, and his signature “toe bug” (the design stitched on the foot part or “vamp”) instantly identifies a vintage boot as a Jones:
The allure of a Jones boot is not its flashy appearance but its sheer quality. You’d need a bandsaw to take them apart. Custom cowboy boots have only a few ingredients: leather, glue, thread, rubber for the heel caps, a steel shank under the arch (purists use a large nail hammered flat), and lemonwood pegs to hold the sole to the insole. These pegs are carefully hammered into holes cut in the leather, and are better than metal since they swell when they’re wet. Another Jones trademark was the quantity of pegs he used; you can also identify his boots because he used three rows of pegs on each side of the sole instead of the usual two:
Some more Ray Jones boots photographed by Jennifer June; note that the stitching is identical to mine: