Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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Antique Edwardian Shoe Rehab

I'm going to call it rehab instead of restoration, because these shoes were in a *state.* They were sent to me by a lovely follower who saw the potential in a pair of sad, squished, absolutely filthy old stompers.

If these shoes could talk...

These poor shoes have seen better centuries...
Upon closer inspection, beneath the grime, I saw some interesting brogueing details and  imagined these would be actually quite charming oxfords.

The first order of business was to wash the dirt away. Then, while the leather was still damp, I applied a thick coat of Angelus Lustre Cream in brown. This stuff is a hydrating cream that keeps the leather supple. The pigmented lustre cream does an amazing job at evening out coloration in the leather and covering scratches, tears, and scuffs.

With the dirt rinsed away, I applied a thick coat of Angelus Lustre Cream and let it dry
After buffing off the lustre cream, I applied Angelus Shoe Wax in brown. The wax fills in cracks and crevices and creates a nice barrier. It also buffs to a fantastic shine and protects the shoes.

Shiny and preserved. Though they still show their extensive wear, now the details and shape of these oxfords comes through
These poor babies are rotten on the inside, where the thin, cheap leather has flaked away almost completely. This is the part of antique shoes that goes first and is usually the worst. It's unrecoverable too, so the best that can be done for these is to stuff them for shape and protect them in shoe bags, only to be brought out for study.

Looking so much better!
And they really did turn out to be a great pair of shoes. Somebody wore these as their everyday shoes, but also took care of them, having them resoled more than once. They were originally cheaply-made, with rough-cut lining and corners cut on areas like the tongue, typical of non-rationed, factory-produced footwear during the Great War period. Never intended to last very long, it's amusing to me that these simple, well-worn, common shoes have out-lived the company who made them and the person or people who wore them.

Now ready to be stored and studied for another 100 years
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15 comments:

  1. I kid you not: These are the shoes I'm wearing today.

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    1. Whoa, that's crazy! Just goes to show what an enduring style it is. But now that I've seen your modern repros maybe we won't do a repro of these...hrm....

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    2. I got them secondhand so I don't think they're currently available, if that makes you feel better. I was just stunned that they were so similar.

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    3. That does actually make me feel better. Maybe there is room for something like this in our line :-)

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  2. Oh, PLEASE do a repro of these!! I need a workhorse, no frills, pair of everyday shoes just like these. Supportive, low heel, polished leather, thick sole, curved up toe to ease up pressure, etc. I want to be able to wear the traditional shoe women wore to work around the house on a daily basis at home. I have a pair of Red Cross vintage oxfords, but they finally blew out at the sides from age and wear. I have the Claremonts, and love them, but they aren't a housework/vintage casual shoe. If you do choose to do a "Downton Downstairs" shoe, I would be your first customer!

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    1. Noted! Yes, I've had quite a few requests for a low-heeled Edwardian, practical shoe. These definitely fit the bill, and I've been collecting some other inspirational images for the cause. It's on my list :-)

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    2. I'll vouch: They're very comfortable, and they're totally wearable with modern clothing if you want shoes that look normal . . . but not too normal (not that that's why we go for vintage-y shoes, but sometimes you want to wear them just because, too).

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    3. I'm glad to hear it, Lauren! If you do reproduce them, I would love to see a camel color, along with whatever other colors you choose. :)

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  3. I agree with Tiffany H! I am pining for a low-heeled edwardian Oxford. Preferably paintable leather. I want mine to be robin's egg blue with matching ribbons!
    Like these:
    http://pinterest.com/pin/A3uuQAAQAHEFvYAEhisAAAA/

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  4. O boy what a great project! I too had Red Cross oxfords, back in the 1970s, that I just wore OUT because they went everywhere! Today I have a pair of oxblood Maraolos, super comfy and look pretty right, but they aren't WORKHORSES!
    Have a great holiday--you are our shoe hero, for sure!

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  6. (Previous comment removed due to a typo.)
    They're gorgeous! So practical looking, but still pointy and shiny. They look just like the shoe illustrations you see in those turn of the century Sears catalogues.

    I would wear a reproduction of these.

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  7. It must have been such a great little moment, bringing them back to life...
    I love situations like these, they are like a material detective story :)

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  8. I hope you do make these shoes, I've wanted shoes like this for a long time. But I have wide feet, I wear a 7C. Will you make a wide width also?

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    1. Hi! We have indeed made our own version of these. They are called "Londoner" and are on pre-order here: http://www.american-duchess.com/edwardian-shoes-boots

      We don't make wide widths, but all of our shoes are leather. I recommend ordering a half size larger and getting a bottle of the shoe stretch spray from our Accessories section. It works wonders. :-)

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