Women's Formal Slippers, about 1840


The label on the slippers indicates a Paris maker known as Este. Labels from the French maker Este (later Viault-Este) are the single most common type found in shoes surviving from this era. They usually appear in plain black or white satin heelless slippers of about 1835-1865 with a tiny bow at the throat (sometimes obscured by a more elaborate rosette added later). The firm is first listed in Bottin's "Almanach du Commerce" in 1821, under "Bottiers," as "Este, pour Dames, rue de la Paix 13." Viault seems to have bought or married into or inherited the business by 1838 or 1839 - in the latter year, the firm is listed under "Viault" only. However, from 1840, the firm is listed as "Viault-Este." The labels, however, are not known to have reflected the new name until 1849, when the rue de la Paix was renumbered and a new design incorporated both the Viault name and the new address. Slippers first acquired ribbons in the 1790s in imitation to the classical sandal.Pictures of them circa 1800 show elaborate methods for tying them around the leg.Lady's Magazine of January 1802 called them "sandal slippers" and reported that they were worn "in the morning by the pedestrian fashionables." [Source:Rexford, Nancy E.Women's Shoes in America 1795-1930.Kent, Ohio:Kent State University Press, 2000.]These shoes come from the personal collection of Mrs. Henry (Clara) Ford - probably sent to her when she and Henry Ford were actively collecting Americana in the 1920's.

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