So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Cowboy Boot Book

The Cowboy Boot Book by Tyler Beard

This is a book that works on many levels making it a great introduction to the history, art, and craft of cowboy bootmaking. It quotes Jack Reed, the only owner of a one-man boot shop left in Texas, saying it takes 372 steps to make cowboy boots, but is not detailed enough to list them all. Until I read this book, I had no idea that there was a market in vintage cowboy boots. I found out that original ornate tops can be fitted with a replaced foot to bring old boots back to life. Jim Arndt's photographs of boots, bootmakers, and boot collectors are outstanding throughout and really bring the book to life. The beginning of the book does an admirable job tracing the history of cowboy boots back to the old Texas-to-Kansas cattle drives of the post-Civil War era. This is followed by a great A - Z directory of the various skins that have been used to make the boots including characteristics, care, and current availability. The next section is a great history of the major boot making factories and the people behind them with chapters on Justin, Nocona, Tony Lama, Lucchese, and Rocketbuster. The rest of the book covers the rest of the cowboy boot business and personalities. Included are descriptions of individual bootmakers and cowboy boot collectors. Each is lavishly illustrated with pictures of them and their boots. The author and photographer are avid collectors and their collections are covered in this section of the book. The book ends with an outline of the retail side of the industry. Major sellers of new and vintage boots are described and a state-by-state Store Guide is included. Of course, not every state has a custom bootmaker or a vintage cowboy boot store, but you can still find the nearest one if this book has convinced you that you are ready for the next step above looking in the Yellow Pages under Western Apparel. The only place where I felt this book went too far is when they say in the caption to a photograph: "the details of this pair of boots could be compared to a fine oil painting." But if you want a basic knowledge of cowboy boots, or love to look at cowboy boots either in a store or on other people's feet this is the book for you.

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