Superior English Shoes in New York


Superior English Shoes in New York

1860's British writer John Ruskin said that quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort. His observation can be applied to the exported British Army shoes. Rarely do period newspapers go into great detail about the mundane points of material culture that interest the living history community. When those rare instances are discovered, they are like a ouija board of the past, passing along messages from a century and half ago.

In the video that we prepared on the english army overcoat, we did a broad stroke history of the firm of Isaac & Campbell. Video. Within that video, we noted that the firm had bankrolled two blockade runners upon which they transported goods into the south. We further noted, that one of these ships, the Stephen Hart was tracked from England, captured, and brought into Brooklyn NY for auction by the US Marshall service. On July 7th, 1862, the newspaper,  American Traveller, wrote an almost curatorial examination of english shoes taken from the Hart. It is almost a point by point description of the fresh out of the box, unused condition, artifact in the collection of the New York State Military Museum, which we have reproduced.  If they are indeed from the Hart, then exported by Isaac & Campbell and likely produced by the Turner Brothers.

Of note for shoe historians they note the "old fashioned long and narrow toes", and short quarters, clearly showing that the styles were different then ours, and somewhat dated. They also mention that the quarters are shorter than ours. There was a photograph of a similiar shoe within the Ernest Peterkin papers, illustrated herein. There are other examples of this type dating from the 1840 period.













Taking extra pains to reproduce items, arms the living historian with a quiver of interpretive detail. We could have used the same commercially available hobnails that are being used with other interpretations of this shoe, the impression of duplicating something that is supposed to from a foreign country is lost. We also didn't simply use our standard brogan pattern, we developed it as a completely different style.


This article was published on Monday 03 January, 2022.
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