Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Georgian Shoe Sojourn: From London Cordwainers & French Shoe Shops to New England Collections

The John Paul Jones House, 
Portsmouth Historical Society 
Portsmouth, NH (USA)
Sandra Rux, Curator

We are (happily) staggered by a wealth of little-known collections with shoes, boots and slippers, which we have been fortunate enough to visit this summer. Many wonderful winter hours of archival research await.  However, with a number of deadlines fast approaching, ample time is elusive. 
Therefore, kind readers, please indulge us as we post images with limited information at this time, knowing that you will learn more as we do and as time permits. This post is the first of several highlighting our summer travels. 
We met Sandra Rux at the 1758 John Paul Jones House 
(43 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH. USA initially to look at a pair of shoes from the shop of London cordwainers, Chamberlain & Sons, Cheapside; we have now returned on several occasions to view this fine collection of historic footwear.
Chamberlain & Sons, London
Pink silk lachet/buckle shoes, 1775-1785
Lovely examples of shoes by the Chamberlains may be found in the
collection of Historic New England.
Interior label
Chamberlain & Sons, London
Note contrasting silks, emphasizing the thin, narrow "peg" heel which
contrasts with the decades earlier, thicker Louis heel.
Label for French cordwainer from Bordeaux
Cream silk shoe, c. 1784
Note metallic "spangles" ornamenting the toe. 
Excellent example of "exotic" kid slippers with Alhambra-esque
printed pattern, c. 1780-90s. This is a quality slipper with
a high level of finish detail. Note the very low leather heel.
Detail of above
Pink kid slipper, printed with stylized, geometric floral motif, c. 1780-1790s.
These slippers were widely popular: an very similar pair is in the Snowshill Collection (

Please note, all images are courtesy of the Portsmouth Historical Society. The artifacts in this post are not currently on view- contact the Curator at the above links for access.

Look for more "Shoe Sojourns" around New England......


  1. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Thank you for sharing. The 1790s slipped is incredible! I've never seen one with that sort of design on the leather before. Very inspiring :-)

    1. Hello Lauren - Just shared your post on the lovely "Antoniettes" Just gorgeous!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the post, Lauren - stay tuned for more as we travel around New England this summer. Feel free to make suggestions as well. Cheers! Kimberly

  3. Wonderful Shoes~ I have a single last quarter 18th c shoe here at the Museum with Eben & Bree Philly label, if you are interested in seeing just drop me a line~ rachael

    1. Hi Rachel - thank you for your note. I will contact you via e-mail. Cheers, Kimberly

  4. Rachel Kinnison - Would be very interested in seeing your labeled shoe. Will send you a note!

  5. Hello Mary - I have been meaning to catch up with you for some time, but your "Internet Vermin" post today touched me. I left you a message on your site and I have shared with a number of friends in a variety of fields. The way you handled it was impressive. Do look me up if you get to the Seacoast. Cheers, KImberly

  6. Hello, With reference to the Chamberlain Shoes, did you know he was a bound apprentice to John Hose and that the said William Chamberlain was the great-great-grandfather of Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister.

    With special regards to Kimberley

    Colin Michael Hose

  7. Hi,
    I like these all flat and low heels shoes collection. We are also best online women’s shoes providers in Australia. These shoes is adjustable with all wear like pants, skirts etc.


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