1860s Button Boots with Scalloped Fly

The boots, once stuffed and supported, were in surprisingly good condition.

Every once in awhile something particularly smashing comes up on eBay and I get all giddy about it.  These boots were one of those “moments.”

Despite the flattened condition the boots were in, in the seller’s photos, I knew from the hallmarks that these boots were somewhere around the 1870 date.  The square toe, scalloped fly, and shape of the heel made them particularly desirable, and when they finally arrived in the mail, I was even happier.

These boots are made of textile with leather facings just on the fly and at top, and leather covered heels.

Using Women’s Shoes in America, 1795-1930 ,by Nancy Rexford, along with the plethora of Metropolitan Museum and VandA pins I’ve been collecting on Pinterest, to assist in dating, I’ve come up with a date range of 1865-1870, specifically, though for a general stylistic period, these work for the very late 1850s to about 1880.  They’re not the *oldest* shoes in my meager collection, but they are possibly the most special, because of their rarity.

Ten white steel-shanked glass buttons are stitched on with strong thread, and pulled through wire-lined buttonholes

Naturally, I’ve sent one of these delicious boots off to our factory to be studied and reproduced for the modern foot, so you can expect to hear updates of Civil War and early Bustle Era footwear coming next year.

That is one very square toe, one of the strongest identifier for this period


    • Lauren Stowell

      September 5, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      I've spec'd them for leather, for outdoor use. These were somebody's wedding boots, and are so lovely, but I think for re-enactor applications, leather will be more popular.

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    September 5, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Interasting that they don't appear to be sided, that sole is almost symmetrical. Amazing – the tiny ankles always blow my mind!

    • Lauren Stowell

      September 5, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      The soles do appear straight-lasted, but there is a definite slant to the uppers, which is the evidence of the lady who wore them, and how her foot and ankle shaped the fairly thin upper. The wear on the soles is minimal, she may have only worn them for her wedding day.

  • myladyswardrobe

    September 5, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    Gorgeous!! These are the types of boots I would so much love to have for Kentwell 1869. Would they be in available in silk? and Leather so both could be dyed to whatever colour we like?

  • Calevey’s Closet

    September 6, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    Oh these are so pretty! I can't wait for more updates on these and the possibility of more Victorian shoes!

    – The Modish Victorian

  • AuntieNan

    September 6, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    Wow! What a find! These are absolutely beautiful, and I can't wait to see how you design them. At some point, if it isn't a closely guarded secret, I'd love to know what kinds of modifications you make (aside from making the toe box wider) for the modern foot. At one point I owned a pair of 1900s white canvas bathing boots–can't believe I lost them!–they actually fit me, although I suspected if they'd been out of leather they'd have been too snug.
    Thanks for this up close look at the past,
    Auntie Nan

    • Lauren Stowell

      September 6, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      Hi Auntie Nan,

      Oh, they're not secrets. 🙂 We always left/right last, regardless of the time period, and for something like this, obviously the ankle and calf measurements will have to be increased. I've spec'd these to not have toe counters, to get the right shape, but if that proves to be uncomfortable, then we'll go with the toe boxes rather than causing discomfort to customers. 🙂

  • Brandi

    September 7, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    Gorgeous! I cannot wait to see your reproductions! I am going to have to start making more money to afford all the pretty shoes & stockings you have that I want. 🙂


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