I was introduced to Shell Cordovan leather by a friend of mine a towards the end of January. Up until that point Shell had always been one of those things I saw advertised on shoes and other things for sale, but I didn’t really understand what it was. I thought it was just some sort of “style” of leather or something like that. Well, he changed my perception on it… and now I, along with my wallet… Will never be the same.
So, before we get into any sort of review… What is Shell Cordovan? Well, simply put it’s the finest leather in the world. Shell Cordovan was the original product of the legendary tannery Horween. They've been making it for over a hundred years, and while they aren't the only tannery in the world making Shell, in my opinion they make the finest. Shell comes from the ass-end of a horse's hide. Per hide there are only two shells, and since we don't butcher horses for food in the US, it makes it fairly difficult to source the hides, and thusly making Shell Codovan expensive. Around $100/sqft.
This is where Ashland Leather Co comes in. The two owners of Ashland Leather's day jobs are as tanners for Horween. This gives them unprecedented access to Shell Cordovan as well as Horween's other legendary leather offerings.
So what makes Shell Cordovan as a material, special? Well... the leather has a unique non-creasing characteristic. In something like Chromexcel or Veg tan leather you'll begin to see the leather crinkling at the creases... This is the leather beginning to delaminate from itself. Additionally, the tightness of the grain of Shell prevents it from losing the dye and oils where the leather bends. Overall it's incredibly tough leather, that should last multiple lifetimes if you take care of it.
So the Fat Herbie is Ashland Leather Co's largest wallet. It measures just over 5x4" closed. It fits cozily in a jean's rear pocket. A typical bi-fold wallet is generally something like 3.5x4", so the Fat Herbie is much larger than what you might be used too, but it's the layout of this wallet that is key. The way the cards are arranged, mixed with how the Shell Cordovan flexes keeps it super thin. Fully loaded (cards & cash) the FH is 7/16th" thick. A quick poll around my office reveals that most guy's traditional bi-fold wallets are around .75-1" thick. This is a significant difference on your spine if you wind up sitting on it for a while.
The Fat Herbie is pretty simple in terms of layout. It's a bifold wallet, with the cash pocket on the outside. The pocket for cash is large enough for any sort of paper money that I've come across. The interior of the wallet is setup in a quad arrangement for your cards. It's advertised to hold 4 cards per slot, so a total of 16 cards. The way that Ashland designed this wallet is extremely efficient, and comfortable to carry, and apart from the materials used, the shining point to this wallet.
Dudes... this wallet is impressive, but before we shout it's praises let's get the one glaring negative out of the way.... Shit's expensive! I mean... this is a $300 wallet. The material cost justifies it some in my mind, there's probably $100 or so of materials used in this wallet, and second to that the craftsmanship is spot on. “But Aaron… my wife will kill me if I spend more on a wallet than she does on a purse…” I get that, so you have another option, Ashland makes the Fat Herbie out of Veg Tan and Chromexcel… You’ll miss out on all the warm coziness that is Shell Cordovan, BUT you’ll still get the excellent layout and size of the Fat Herbie. All-in-all you can’t go wrong with a Fat Herbie, regardless of material… The Shell is just the icing on the cake. Checkout Ashland Leather here, and get yourself some Shell Cordovan!