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  • Men's Patten Overshoe, 1830-1850

    Pattens, a type of overshoe, were used to protect both feet and shoes from mud and snow. Wooden-soled overshoes were used as early as the fourteenth-century but were restricted to the wealthy. By the early fifteenth-century, a form of composite leather sole made pattens more widely accessible. Because of their functional appearance, they were generally associated with the lower classes and country people, although they were more useful in town than in the country where the iron ring would have s…

  • Wedding Slippers, about 1830

    An attached mailing label reads: "From B. Shinberg, Gilbert Shoe Co., 151 Essex St., Haverhill, Mass." An included note indicates that that these were wedding slippers worn by a Mrs. Davis of Cambridge, MA around 1830. Shape of heel and toe suggest that the 1830 date is appropriate. White slipper/shoes such as this were typically used at weddings. The very slight wear corroborates this use.

  • Women's Slippers, 1830-1850

    These slippers- really shoes- may have been used for a wedding. They appear plain but remnants of thread on the throat indicate this pair was decorated. Heeled shoes with square toes were particularly popular in the 1830's and 1840's. These leather shoes are less delicate than those made from satin, but still offer little support or protection from the elements. Thus, these are indoor shoes used to look fashionable. If worn outside they would quickly become soiled; the foot hangs over the straig…

  • Men's Slippers, about 1858

    Undress or negligee dress was the term given to casual, loose-fitting clothing worn in the morning before changing in to fashionable day dress. Men's embroidered slippers (bright-colored worsted work on canvas) were very popular in the early Victorian period. Ladies magazines often included embroidery patterns for house slippers that a woman mightmake for her husband as a gift. Please note that the term Berlin Work or Berlin Woolwork comes from the fact that the best embroidery patterns came fro…

  • Women's Slippers, 1840-1850

    These shoes are delicate with very thin soles and tight fitting.The idea that woman who could wear such shoes were symbols of high social economy.Men ruled the outdoors, and by the grace of their husbands, women ruled the indoors.Constricting shoes helped to keep woman inside and dependant on their husbands.[Source:Rexford, Nancy E.Women's Shoes in America 1795-1930.Kent, Ohio:Kent State University Press, 2000.]

  • Women's Shoes, about 1840

    Delicate slippers such as these were used by ladies in the early Victorian period with fashionable dress. These tied on to the ankle, much as some ballet shoes do today. These types of shoes were notoriously unhealthy-- they quickly became damp and soiled, provided no foot support, and were occasionally purchased a size or two too small so that thewearer's foot appeared dainty. It was all about looking great; women were not expected to be comfortable or accommodated by their dress.

  • Women's Slippers, about 1810

    The double zig-zag vamp was popular from 1805-1815. The popularity of the oval toe precedes that of the square toe, which came in to high fashion from 1815-1830. The vamp and rounded toe of these shoes dates them to about 1805-1815.

  • Women's Slippers, about 1800

    This style toe was popular in the very late 18th - early 19th century. While these are called slippers, they were actually fairly fashionable shoes. The heel on this pair is very fashionable. The handwork suggests that these were custom made.

  • Women's Shoes, about 1860

    These shoes, commonly called slippers in this period, were likely made to match a specific outfit. They may have been made to match a wedding gown. Flimsy fabric shoes such as this were very popular, but provided no support and quickly were soiled and damaged. They were purely decorative and worn by women who were expected to stay primarily indoors and not required to do any work.

  • Wedding Shoes, 1843

    A note found with these slippers identifies them as having been worn by Sarah Martense Shear at her wedding in 1843. These show a typical styling from 1830-1850-- a narrow square toes and ribbons that secure the shoe to the foot. Many wedding shoes were made of light colored fabrics that matched the wedding dress. However, tan and light brown shoes were very popular in this era. These are likely custom, handmade shoes.

  • Women's Slippers, about 1810

    A note found with these shoes indicated that they were worn by the mother of J.W. Carney at the inaugural ball of James Monroe.It is not indicated, however, if it was the 1817 or the 1821 inauguration. The rounded toe dates them in the first two decades of the 19th century, which agrees with the dates of the donor note.

  • Mules, about 1870

    Mrs. Tom Thumb (1841-1918), was known variously as Lavinia Warren, Countess M. Lavinia Magri, and Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump. She was a dwarf who stood just 32 inches high. Lavinia Warren went under contract to P.T. Barnum in 1862, who indulged her preferences for fine clothing and jewelry.She married Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton, 1838-1883) in 1863 and the two toured with P.T. Barnum's Circus until Thumb's death in 1883. These fine slippers offer an indication of her size (very small) and style (…

  • Women's Shoes, about 1875

    These are interesting shoes; likely a transitional shoes style popular just after the Civil War. They are machine sewn, but retain the straight soles that fall from favor shortly after the war. These are inexpensive, sturdy women's shoes worn by the ordinary housekeeper.

  • Women's Boots, about 1845

    Fabric gaiters that matched an outfit, with ankle lacings and square toe, were extremely popular in the mid 19th century. Wedding gaiters were of white satin, everyday pairs were of sturdy fabrics such as this. This pair could have been made at home (see Every Lady her Own Shoemaker, 1856). This pair comes from the Mitchell Family of Port Washington, New York.

  • Satin Boots, about 1865

    Congress gaiters is a term for boots with elastic at the ankles. This style of boots is comfortable and easy to pull on and off. They were a very popular style in the mid 19th century for both men and women. At the time these were made, elastic thread was only available in black. This is why you see the black speckling in the white fabric of the gores of these boots.

  • Men's Slippers, 1830-1860

    "Undies", or casual morning wear to be worn at home, could be quite decorative and fancy in the 19th century. Loose fitting sacques or morning dress for women could be quite elaborate, including elegant footwear. Men, too, enjoyed robes and slippers that could be quite elaborate. Berlin work patterns for slippers were exceedingly popular circa 1850. These slippers are both expensive and quite elaborate for a middle-class man around 1850. They appear little worn. Benjamin Wheeler was, according t…

  • Women's Boots, about 1870

    The machine stitching on these boots is extraordinarily tight and fine--fabulous. Very narrow outer sole for a long, skinny foot. They could be wedding boots. Donor Mrs. Ethel G. Douglas, of 5th Ave. in New York City, was born circa 1885 in Pennsylvania. It is plausible that these were her mother's shoes, perhaps worn at a wedding around 1875.

  • Women's Patten Overshoe, 1830-1850

    According to the donor, the patten overshoes were worn in the mid 19th century by her great-grandmother, Mrs. Pastrigs. Pattens, a type of overshoe, were used to protect both feet and shoes from mud and snow. Wooden-soled overshoes were used as early as the fourteenth-century but were restricted to the wealthy. By the early fifteenth-century, a form of composite leather sole made pattens more widely accessible. Because of their functional appearance, they were generally associated with the lower…

  • Shoes, about 1955-1965

    Please note that this style, which showed "toe cleavage" and is often backless, was Mrs. Firestone's favorite style for nearly two decades. This style was custom made for her in hundreds of colors and fabrics.Born in Decatur, Illinois in 1897 Elizabeth Parke married Harvey S. Firestone Jr., son of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company founder Harvey S. Firestone, in 1921.Once described by a friend as, "the most luxurious woman in the history of luxury," Elizabeth Parke Firestone's clothing collectio…

  • Platform Sandals, about 1935-1950

    These shoes, used in the summer in the late 1930's and 1940's, are one of the rare pair of casual shoes in our collection of Mrs. Firestone's clothing and accessories. She usually favored European designer; the American label may indicate that these were used during the war when many European couture houses were closed.Born in Decatur, Illinois in 1897 Elizabeth Parke married Harvey S. Firestone Jr., son of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company founder Harvey S. Firestone, in 1921.Once described by …