Back-to-school boots

September 2, 2014 • 4:20 am

It is acceptable to wear cowboy boots after Labor Day, et voilà—a new pair. These have been identified by experts as having been made by the famous bootmaker Carlos Hernandez, who worked for the Martin Boots store in Austin (they have an “MB” logo stamped inside), as well as for some other well known outfits like Lucchese (for whom he designed the famous “State Boots,” and Capitol Boots.

This pair is at least thirty years old, but I bought them completely new on eBay. Not a scratch on the sole.

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Just to let you know that good boots have a history and people who are curious about it, here’s the background that was traced back by the boot aficionado who sold them to me. This is information from the still-living designer:

“Greg Martin was the owner of Martin Boots, but has since passed away. The company was shortlived and yes I did design work for the company. The boots were made by Master Bootmaker Carlos Hernandez, of quite some fame, and his crew of excellent bootmakers. Sadly Carlos has passed away, as well as most of the bootmakers that were quite skilled and produced some very fine boots. They were purchased and renamed Texas Custom Boots, for which I continued to do design for, and managed after Carlos passed away. The company, Texas Custom Boots, has been sold several times. The original bootmakers have all aged and passed away and the company went into decline. Today, the name Texas Custom Boots is owned by Noel Escobar, and is still in operation in Austin, Texas. Not only did I work at Martin Boots, I know that pair, as they have my design on them.”

And from the maker’s daughter:

“My father, Carlos Hernandez Sr. and my brother Carlos Hernandez Jr. were the actual designers and creators of the State Boots that were custom made through Lucchese’s Boot Shop. My father made the patterns and my brother created the designs. Many of the boots were assembled in my home, at 517 W. Martin St., San Antonio, Texas. There were many nights the machines were going all through the night. I witnessed their creation and to this day I own one of the tools used to make them. I am very proud of the legacy left by my father and brother.  Virginia Hernandez Guadiano.”

Lucchese made a set of boots (see the link above for photos) with a theme for each of the 50 states. Only one boot was made for each state, and you can pick up one for about $11,000!

Now, what I don’t know is what kind of hide these boots are made from. It’s clearly reptile, but almost all reptile boots are made from teju lizard, which looks nothing like this. Perhaps some herper can identify the skin. Here’s a close-up:

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22 thoughts on “Back-to-school boots

    1. No; they bear a superficial resemblance but it’s definitely a reptile (the “counter” or heel, is made of other skin from the critter, and is definitely reptilian. And this looks nothing like stingray on close inspection.

  1. I am certainly no expert nor do I actually know, but they have passing resemblance to the belly skin of the horned frog (short-horned lizard). Regardless, them’s some fancy footwear for your first day back in the classroom. Good luck! For the first time in thirty seven years my footwear for the first day of school is a pair of Simms wading boots as I head down to my favorite brook trout stream here in northern Michigan after retiring from teaching. Not exactly sure how to feel about that…

      1. Either of those seems very likely. But they have bold color patterns. There is maybe a faint pattern on the leather here…

  2. I’m pretty certain those are lizard, though I can’t identify the type. Seems like it would be something related to ring lizard, but without the usual ring markings. Maybe there’s a way to wipe out that pattern from the leather?

    It doesn’t fully answer the question, but I found a good video from a leather supply company (rojeleather.com) that shows off the difference between ring and teju lizard skins: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9keLXqUXWzo&t=4m3s

  3. Belly skin of a large monitor, probably Varanus indicus because it’s the one commonly harvested for leather. The nearly-linear ‘seam’ down the top of the foot is the mid-ventral line where the skin closes around the yolk sac at a fairly late stage during development.
    I hadn’t thought of Heloderma till seeing it suggested above; not sure what their belly skin looks like, but on back and sides each ‘bead’ scale is surrounded by a rosette of small scales (a pattern similar to that of numerous non-avian dinosaur skin impressions). Also they’d have to be very big individuals, but only moderately large adults of a big Varanus.

  4. I am so glad I ran across this article. Carlos Hernandez Jr. was my grandfather, and great quote from my sweet Great Aunt Virginia. I wish I had a custom pair for my self.
    Sarah Hernandez

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