Regency Footwear

Continuing down the same path-- pun intended. Here is the last post on shoes, for now.

Still waiting for Cassandra to get in touch, so if I don't hear from her by the end of the weekend I think I will draw again.

These are buckles presented to Nelson in 1803. They have their own domed leather case.

Clearly shoes, of the dress variety, were a highly thought of item.

Since Nelson died in 1805 and had been at sea for much of that time, my guess is these buckles never graced a pair of his shoes.

These are English shoes and gloves from 1840, so still not much in the way of heels Melinda.

Shoe making, or cobbling, was a highly thought of trade in this time period, as can be seen from this mug. I must say I thought putting Victory and shoe-making in the same category a little pretentious, but who knows.

The next picture also shows that shoe-aholocism (umm not sure how to spell that) has been a problem for centuries. lol. These are snuff boxes from the 18th and nineteenth centuries, made in the shape of shoes. Aren't they sweet. If you find one in your travels, let me know. I would love to own one of these.

I was fascinated by this last picture, it is French. It shows a man making shoes and whistling to the little bird above his head. This is a political commentary. Apparently in France shoemakers were renowned for making up political rhymes. And of course some of them would have been part of the French Revolutionary movement and perhaps telling the bird the rhyme was not seditious, as telling the person standing in your shop. Look how ragged he is, despite his good business.

Hmm. I feel a story coming on.

Which makes me think it is a good time to stop. Next week we are back at the first of the month, so it will be time for some September fashions and later in the week, a look at nature and gardens.

In the meantime --Happy Rambles.

Regency Footwear

Thanks to all who guessed in my contest. Well, none of you guessed correctly, but to be honest, I am not the slightest bit surprised. Most of you thought of crampons, for walking in ice and snow, which was also my first thought when I saw them.

The boots are, in fact, French. And they are chestnut crushers! If you did not see the picture in the earlier post, it the one below this.

I am sure you can see it quite easily now. lol

Clogs like these were used in 19th century France to remove the shells from acorns and chestnuts. The meat from the nuts could be ground into flour or used as pig feed. France, 1800's-1900's. The brine created in the process was also used in the leather curing process.

And the winner is: Cassandra. Please email me directly with your address and I will send off your prize.

The Bata Museum is currently featuring dancing shoes. As an ex dancer, and a mum whose girls danced their little tootsies off before they found the opposite sex, I was fascinated.

Before the nineteenth century, dancers dance in whatever shoes were fashionable at the time. This is a pair of mid 18th century shoes. They are quite lovely.

As you can see from this picture above, they did indeed dance in this kind of shoe.

Then came the classical era, the Regency, all flowing lines, strait skirts, and empire waists. With them came a soft slipper with low heels. And dancers loved them. By the way, during this period, all shoes were "straights". That is there were no left or rights, the wearer simply wore them in, until they fitted the foot. This is true of dance slippers today, as I am sure you know.

As you can see, this pair of ballet slippers, is is not much different to the shoes our Regency ladies wore in the street, but dancers loved them.

And so when they went out of fashion for everyday where, they remained (with adaptations) on the stage.

Here are some early examples. It is here that I must tell you that dancing "en pointe" did not come into being until 1832. And the first dancer en pointe was a man.

But the ladies did not leave it there for long.

The museum had a wonderful history of ballet shoes, their construction and various improvements over the years, but they are all post Regency, and therefore not really relevant.

I do have one more set of pictures and stories about shoes, so until next time, Happy Rambles (and keep your feet dry).

These Boots are Made for Walking

I didn't tell you I was a shoaholic, did I? Can't ever buy only one pair of shoes. Well my writer friend Mary Sullivan took me out for a special treat and I wanted to share it with you.

I know, I promised more money information, but thought we might take a little side trip. Which is exactly what I did last week when I visited the Bata Shoe Museum here in Toronto.

And no, this boot was not actually made for walking. Any guesses? I wish you could see just how big this sucker is. Anyway, it is called a "postillion's boot" from the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. They were made to be worn by a coachman over his regular boots, which accounts for the sheer size of the thing, and they were made of hardened leather to protect him from low hanging branches, or in cases of accidents, from breaking his legs when hit bit the dust. A sort of airbag device for the legs. If you look closely you can see the rowel (spurs) at the back.

Some of them, the display said, had a metal cup set in the toe where the coachman could place hot embers to keep his toes warm on winter nights. Central heating anyone?

I should mention that the museum is very kind about allowing pictures, provided one does not use a flash. I tried really hard to comply, but sometimes my camera had a mind of its own and some of the pictures are a bit on the dark side.

This was the first case we looked at, and I was simply charmed out of my flip flops. These were cinderella shoes from around the world. It seems that each culture has its own version of the Cinderella story and they all involve a prince and a slipper. Who knew Cinders got about that much. In this display case there were Korean and Egyptian slippers.

Throughout the ages, porcelain or glass slippers have been considered an appropriate wedding memento. Could have some connection with the modern tradition of tying an old boot to the honeymoon car. lol

These were French, but as you can see they are of the ornament variety, and one pair is of course glass. So pretty. A bit hard to see, since they are clear, but I thought them quite lovely.


Now what the devil are these for?

Well I'm not going to tell you. You are going to have to guess. And if you guess right, I will send you a set of Jane Austen Correspondence Cards that I bought at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath for just such an occasion. However, if no one guesses right, I will draw from those who comment. Similarly if I have more than one correct guess, I will draw from those. I will post the correct answer on Monday along with the name of the winner. Don't be shy. You have to comment, or guess to have a chance at winning.

I can see I am getting close to the limit of my attention span -- I really don't like blogs that go on and on, but since I am a shoeaholic it is very hard for me to stop.

Just one more. What shall I pick?

If you guessed these were Napoleon's socks, you'd be right!

They were worn by him on St Helena. All right, so they aren't shoes. But think of the famous tootsies that once wriggled inside them. Or that stomped around the headland, staring out into all that nothing and wondering if he would ever go home again.

That is it. We will have more shoes on Monday and probably Thursday too. Until next time, Happy Rambles.


Well we all love 'em don't we? At least I do. I can't buy one pair of shoes. I never walk out with less than two pairs. And I have a closet full that I've only worn a couple of times and others that I wear over and over again.
Before we start I will apologize for the formatting. The preview doesn't always provide an exact placement, so I think I have it right and then I look at it the next day and there is too much white space.

Shoes are not something we think much about when talking of Regency fashion, but I am sure our foremothers loved them just as much as we do.

This is a ladies pump from 1785, so just before the Regency. I thought it might be interesting to see how they changed from the end of the 18th century into the 19th century.

With the classic lines of the Regency these yellow slippers seem much more appropriate than the heeled pumps of the earlier century. Note the pointed toes and the lack of a right or left foot. These are from about 1800. And the pink ones are pink kid, and in the same era, 1800-1810

The next pair tie right up around the ankle. They look really sweet to me with the little ruffle across the front.

Something we always read about in Regencies are half boots. I imagined them to be a lot heavier duty than these below, but they certainly would have been better than the slippers shown above, for a march across the field, or at least for a gentle stroll. They are not very elegant compared to the high heeled well fitting boots we wear today. The first pair is leather and the second a cotton jean half boot which was very fashionable in our era. This pair is 1812-20

These flatties, as my mum would have called them, are pair of men's shoes from around the same time-frame. Not so very different from the ladies as you can see and very flat after the previous century's penchant for men to wear high heels similar to the first picture and for the very rich, they would be jeweled. Of course, for novels we mostly have our gentlement in Hessian boots, they sound more heroic somehow than these rather balletic looking shoes or how about the velvet ones. Yep those are guys shoes too.

I thought you might be interested in what the everyday folk might have worn. This pair of boots would probably served either gender for working in.

That's it for now. Hope you enjoyed a visit to the shoes of the Regency. If you are ever in Toronto the Bata shoe museum, from which some of these examples were taken, is just down the road from the Royal Ontario Museum.

Until next week Happy Rambles.