Generally speaking, the price that something sells for on eBay is a combination of two factors: how much it cost when new, and how hard it is to get. Now, if you live in a rural area, you may be able to waltz down to your local feed store and pick up a pair of cowboy boots. They will be expensive but at least they will be available. For the rest of the world, there is eBay. Whenever there is an expensive product that may be limited geographically, you should be smelling opportunity on eBay. Especially if your area (like mine) happens to be particularly rich in that item… In this case…cowboy boots.
Before we get to brands, however, let's talk about a few non-brand things that make cowboy bots worth picking up:
Non-Brand Things To Look For
Exotic materials (usually an unusual type of leather) is one of the main distinguishing factors of high end boots. Some brands have carved out a niche for themselves by specializing in usual materials. For example, while many brands focus on making their boots more colorful or complex, Tony Lama often makes boots in simple colors (black or grey) but with materials such as shark skin, stingray, eel, alligator, etc.
If you've ever seen a pair of cowboy boots, it is easy to notice the unusual while sourcing. Look for boots with an odd texture or color. Identifying the type of leather you have is much more important for listing. This can typically be done by looking up the model number printed inside the boot, or looking up boots of that particular brand and finding similar items. If all else fails, you can also send a picture of the boots to the company and they will identify them for you.
If you are in a hurry, you can almost always identify a high-quality cowboy boot by the feel of the leather. If there are several pair, just walk down the aisle and feel each one. If they have a cheap plastic type feel, especially the upper leather, go ahead and pass on them.
Embroidering a piece of clothing has always been a sign of luxury. Embroidery takes either a great deal of time to do well or a great deal of technology/expense to do quickly. Clothing company Johnny Was is well known for its colorful and complex designs. Now imagine, if someone is willing to pay $100's of dollars for a embroidered piece of cotton, how much more would a pair of handcrafted leather boots be worth if they were richly embroidered?
Any boots that you see with actual thread embroidery will be worth picking up. The example picture is a pair of Double D Ranch boots that retail for $755.
Handcrafted Genuine Leather/Made in the USA
If you see a "handcrafted" stamp on a pair of boots if typically means one of two things: the boots are vintage or very expensive (or both!). Handcrafting of any sort is an obvious sign of expense, and people think the same about anything that is made in the USA. Anything that people think "must be better," they will pay more for!
You are also likely to find a lot of handcrafted boots that were made in Mexico or a South American Country. We often pick these up if they are unusual or nice enough to sell on the merits of quality alone, as the brands are typically not well known.
As with embroidery, the added complexity of cut-outs (or any sort of laying leather) is typically a hallmark of expensive boots.
Any brand that is concerned with doing things cheaply and producing "affordable" (read: lower quality) products, is not going to take the time to create extra detailing. So, if you see genuine leather boots with cut outs or layered leather details, they're almost always worth picking up.
Quick Tip: Toe Types
Saddle up and ride!
13 brands should be more than enough to get you moving when it comes to boots! If you see something nice, it only takes a minute to look it up. There are also brands that are expensive enough that they are worth sourcing locally (on Craigslist, FB Marketplace, etc). Unlike most things, cowboy boots are rarely faked so when you find something, you find it! Good luck!