Tools of the Trade: Order Books

Once upon a time, bootmakers used “order books.” These were big hardcover books that remind me of the world atlas my sister and I shared when were kids. Back then, pages were big and I was small… and I had to use my whole arm to turn a page.

Here’s how they work. Each customer would stand on the book, both their feet would be traced, and their measurements written down. Once the book was full, the bootmaker would start another.

If you look inside and old custom boot you’ll often see a couple numbers, like 8-86. It’s secret code… you need to open order book #8 and turn to page 86. There you will find the customer’s name, measurements and usually the original selling price of the cowboy boots.

Nowadays most bootmakers use file folders. Sigh.

Photos taken at James Leddy Boots (Abilene, TX)