How to Tell Real Alligator Leather Boots

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If a pair of alligator boots is made from real leather you will be able to tell in a few different ways. Learn how to tell real alligator leather boots from imitation boots with help from the manager of a leather business in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Cowboy Boots
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Greg, and we're at Helen's Leather Shop in Boston in Beacon Hill, where I've been the manager for the last 31 years selling cowboy boots. And today, we're going to try to answer some questions about alligator in particular, and what to expect when you buy it, and really, how to tell what you're getting. And the first thing everybody needs to know is they make boots out of three reptiles in particular. They make boots out of American-made alligator, and they make boots out of Nile crocodile from Africa, and they make boots out of Caiman which is a small crocodile found in Southeast Asia South America and a lot of different places and they can look quite similar but the prices can vary dramatically and they also use different parts of each of those animals to make the boots out of. So the first boot I'm going to show you today is a handmade pair of Lou Casey alligator boots. This is American alligator. These skins are all raised, you know, domestically on farms in Louisiana and Florida and a little bit in Texas and this is considered the choicest of the skins and because alligator is the most expensive usually it can demand that price because the skin is very clean. On the tiles there's very few blemishes and as you get into some of the other boots you'll see that that's not the case. Alligator boots generally at this point in time for a nice pair of handmade alligator boots if they're using the belly which you see here which is a smooth cut can run 3 or 4 thousand dollars and they're also going to use the back cut which is this boot right here. This is off the back of the head where they'll put the two large, two or four large horns on the toe box of the boot and run the back of the boot and cover the rest of the vamp with it. This is generally less expensive than the belly of the alligator, it's just not quite as much in demand and this boot for a nice pair of handmade American alligator head cuts you're probably going to run $2,500 to $3,000 depending on who makes it and if there's any other thing special about the boot. These other two boots I have on display are made from Caiman. Now that's the one that they find in Southeast Asia and South America. The skins are a lot more plentiful so the cost on the boots is a lot less. This is a Lou Casey boot here and it has a small piece of Caiman belly inserted into the center of the vamp and if you can see closely enough on these, the Caiman belly, there are small blemishes on the skin, small perforations just not quite as smooth as the alligator belly and so generally if this whole lower part of the boot was made out of Caiman, the cost of a pair of handmade Caiman boots would probably run about $1,000 to $1,200 and they will also use the head cut and the tail cut of a Caiman. Now on the tail cut you're only going to get two rows of horns up the front like that and they could also make the Caiman with the head cut in which they would mount the large horns on the toe box of the boot and run the rest of the scales up the front and generally they can look very similar to alligator because like I said there's a huge price disparity so your best bet is really to go to a reputable dealer to find out exactly what you're getting in terms of the actual skin and occasionally it's a little bit rare but you will see boots made out of Nile crocodile from Africa and the price on that falls somewhere in between the Caiman and the American alligator boots, probably for a belly cut handmade pair of African crocodile, Nile boots you're probably going to run the $2,500 to $3,000 range but again you're not really going to see that. Most of which you're going to see is going to be the Caiman because the cost is more affordable for most people. The only other thing you consider too, occasionally you see boots made out of faux alligator where they're going to take an embossing machine and press the print of the tiles into the leather. They're going to put the texture right into the leather to make it look like a genuine alligator or crocodile boot and usually you can tell the difference because they'll look cheaper and the pattern will be very uniform. Each one will be the same as the one next to it and they won't be as distinct and also the price should be a lot less. So if someone is trying to sell you a pair of alligator boots for a cheap price you should consider the fact that it might not be real and once again that's probably why you want to go to a reputable dealership if you're going to start to think about spending thousands of dollars on a pair of boots. So hopefully that's going to make your purchase a little bit easier but do your research, do your homework, go to a reputable dealer and that's probably your safest bet and once again we're at Helen's Leather Shop in Boston and thank you for watching the video.

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