One more review post then I’ll be back to the usual outfit and wardrobe overview posts for May!
I haven’t talked about these on this blog before, but I’ve been looking for these Hieronymus Bosch Dr Martens boots since about 2016, predating when I even considered fashion a hobby. I saw someone wearing a pair of boots with the Garden of Earthly Delights print on MUNI one evening and was so taken by them I was enticed to take a creeper photo for future reference – the only time I’ve ever done that 👀
Turns out they were the inaugural release for the Dr Martens Museum Collection line, which is pretty much what you’d expect: fine arts prints on docs. But that was back in 2014, so these were long since sold out.
This is the original 16th century three-panel (triptych) painting (wikipedia link) by Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch:
I didn’t start seriously looking for them until a couple of months ago when I had owned my pair of 1460 smooth docs for a while and decided that I generally enjoyed how docs could fit in my outfits. I put up some ebay alerts for them but AT LAST I have found both the heaven/eden and hell versions in a US Ladies 7.
The Museum Collection 1460s are the “Pascal” version of the 8-eye boot, which is made of a softer, thinner leather than the standard smooth leather. I read probably a few dozen reviews across several sites and the consensus was that the Pascals run narrower, more suited to the average woman’s foot width, but follow the usual length sizing of “if you’re usually a half size, round down to the nearest whole size”.
I found that the Pascal boots were noticeably shorter than the standard boots, which was really annoying. I should have really tried on some Pascals in a store before dropping $$$ on these, but I figured since the USL7 on the standard docs was quite roomy, these should be fine.
I measured them with one of those metal measuring tapes (so this was a flat measurement, not flush against the soles) and found that the 1460 smooth was 11″ while the Pascal boot was 10 5/8″.
The difference this makes is that while in the standard docs, my foot is never touching the end of the boot, in the Hieronymus Bosch boots I have to lace them snugly so that my foot stays towards the back so my big toe doesn’t hit the end of the boot. When I’m just standing, I find that on my left foot (which is slightly bigger) the end of my foot touches the end of the boot. Not enough to actively crunch it, but enough to be annoying. When I’m walking at a “going from point A to B” pace (vs plodding around aimilessly) I find that the boots are very comfortable and my feet don’t hit the ends at all. So it works out, but this is just barely acceptable as “yes it fits”. I suspect that if I went up a size to an 8, I would need to add an insole and/or wear it with extra thick socks which would also be annoying.
The Pascal is a better fit for width. The smooths aren’t annoyingly wide, but my feet slip around in those a bit while the 7 is pretty snug.
The Pascal leather is much thinner and softer. In fact so soft that it is just raw cut at the top of the shaft and it doesn’t chafe my legs at all (unlike some other raw-cut top boots I’ve had painful experiences with). I still get blisters if I wear my standard docs to walk for long distances but the Pascals were wearable right when they arrived. I did get mine slightly used – the sole looked about as good as a new sole, but there was some creasing on the boot so it was worn to walk around in at least a bit.
My foot measurements
(width taken using a cm-only measuring tape and converted)
length: 9 5/6″
length: 9 3/4″
I’m usually a US women’s 7.5 medium width in most shoes, though sometimes I need to size up for my left foot. I have a few shoes that are 7, some are 8. And one weird pair of clogs that’s a size 9.
Just for the Garden of Earthly Delights ones. I may update with some close-ups of the hell version but tbh you can find plenty of photos of both these boots by googling “dr martens bosch”.
These are so much fun. You can just keep looking at them… what is going on there? What is THAT?
Purchasing on ebay
I set up some saved searches on ebay to alert me via email if someone posted something for sale with some combination of “docs”/”dr martens” and “hieronymus bosch” “hell” “earthly delights” “heaven”. I usually set up multiple versions of searches for an item. In this case I didn’t include the sizing on the search because I figured people might could list only the men’s or the UK sizes.
I got the heaven ones for $300 + something like $15 for shipping and the hell boots for about $195 including shipping. I could have definitely gotten the earthly delights ones for a bit cheaper if I waited (in fact, the very next day after I got mine, someone posted a pair in the same size in better condition for a buy it now of about $50 less than what I paid, but I’m trying not to be too mad about that because I literally had the search up for months and this was the first sub-$500 pair in my size I’d seen.)
The Earthly Delights pair was listed at a “buy it now” of $350 and I offered $300 (I don’t do tons of ebay shopping but in my experience, sellers haven’t been keen on accepting lower offers – I’m talking like $80 for something listed at $88. Why even bother putting the offer option then??) so I went on the higher end which I think was a mistake because the seller accepted like three minutes after I put the offer in. The hell pair was listed for auction starting at about $100. I didn’t use an auction sniping app, but I waited until 10 minutes before the end of the auctions to place a bid, at which time it was going for about $120. I put $250 in and before shipping it ended up at $170.39. Needless to say I am fortunate not to be in the camp of having to hardcore bargain (I am also not someone who enjoys bargaining).
The more expensive pair shipped in A+ secure packaging including bubble wrap and the shoes being stuffed with paper, and also was sealed with fun tie dye tape and came with a couple of random cool stickers. The cheaper pair shipped in a shoebox that was too short height-wise for the shoes and were rather crunched up upon arrival.
I didn’t want to pay much more than $300 because these were $150 new (before tax and shipping), and it seemed there were regularly some offered in the $200-300 range used. For context, the shipped-from-USA results right now for “dr martens bosch” has 1460s (various sizes, shipping not included) listed for $250, $250, $385 (new), $330, $300, $225, $375 (new), $365, $850 (not even new in box, WTF), $240, $650 (new), $399, and $325. This seems fairly consistent with the listings I got in the email results over the past few months.
I honestly don’t anticipate that these will be a staple in my wardrobe, as I’ve found I still get the most enjoyment out of wearing more “storybook” flavored outfits, but I’m hoping to wear at least one of the pairs once a week, weather allowing.
Planning to stick to a mostly standard edgy/punk sort of look, or casual with some romantic elements thrown in because I think it stylistically goes with the old oil painting aesthetic.
I can see these potentially coming off as 2000s wannabe Ed Hardy douchebro with the wrong styling, so I will probably be avoiding these with more generically casual outfits (e.g. blue jeans and a mens fit t-shirt).
Despite the close call with the sizing and them not being an Ultimate Closet Staple, I’m really stoked to finally own these and I’ve been really happy to see them with all my other shoes. I feel really cool while wearing them, like I should be stopping by the Met this weekend on the way to a friend’s punk band’s show. I’ve gotten compliments on them already from a few friends who normally don’t give two shits about shoes beyond practicality.
Have you managed to hunt down some limited edition item you’d been salivating over for months or years? What was it?
(Update to add one more outfit ft the hell versions that I really liked)