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  • Black Smooth
  • Black Rough
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Product Description

Straight Last (no lefts and rights), 1¼" latchet, an all-leather shoe appropriate for the time period 1740-1800.

Buckles sold separately.

Historical notes: In 1757-58 a British army was on its way to attack the French stronghold of Fort Duquesne at the present site of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Delayed by the weather, they established winter quarters at Fort Ligonier in what became the state of Pennsylvania. A neighboring creek was used as a refuse dump and a flash flood in early 1758 deposited a load of clay that sealed the contents of the dump for two hundred years. In 1958 the dump was opened and, among other things, a great number of shoes and shoe parts were discovered. Units of that British army had recently been stationed in Bermuda, Ireland, Britain, Philadelphia and Charleston. Their shoes had been made in all of those places, reflecting the supply system of the British Army at the time. The discarded shoes showed fourteen toe styles, an equal number of tongue styles and latchets (straps) from 3/4 inch to 3 inches in width. There were no boxy square toes. From the original list, the most common or predominant features were selected for this shoe. The result was a round-toed shoe with a low or moderate heel, short tongue and a 1¼" latchet. It will serve for a military or everyday shoe from 1740 to 1800.

Swapping shoes from foot to foot each day - In over a hundred examples, the Ligonier collection showed one or two with evidence of having been swapped from foot to foot. Although there is evidence that some officers put out such orders, the practice was seldom followed.

Rough out or smooth? This shoe is constructed with the same top grain leather for both types, not cheaper splits for the rough-out. The rough-out reflects the common shoe in Colonial times, as the leather splitting machine was not invented until the 1840's. In the Colonial era, leather was brought to thickness by "currying" or scraping over a wooden beam. Unlined shoes would be made with the smooth side in to take the place of a lining. The rough outside leather was dressed with a mixture of soot, lard, bear grease and beeswax. The first commercial shoe polish was advertised in Boston in 1771. For the most authentic appearance, a rough-out shoe may be "packed" with commercial shoe polish to simulate the bear grease polish of the itinerant shoemaker.

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