Saturday, June 14, 2014

Patriotic Shoes: Made from Fragments of an American Revolution Flag?

Are these shoes tied to the American Revolution, fabricated from a piece of a banner, flag or standard ? The Connecticut Historical Society notes that in their records "these shoes were made about 1780, from a military flag carried in the Revolutionary War." The maker is unknown. Presented to the Society by Mrs. Horatio Fitch, both her family and her husband's could have had ties to the Revolution.

The uppers are crafted from red silk damask and painted with highlights of gold and black, with discernible letters "OIT" on one shoe and "N" on the other. Decorative swirls also comprise the detail. Lachets would have buckled across the vamp. The interior is lined with linen. They are hand stitched and, as noted in the Society description, the edge was hastily whip-stitched. This may indicate that the shoes were made up quickly for a special commemorative event. The materials are typical of those used for banners of the time. Indeed, just a few years later, during President George Washington's Boston visit (October 1789, more: George Washington & the Cordwainers), the procession banners of the trades were made of painted silk.

The diminutive heel is covered in a white damask, adding a contrast with the red silk. Given the dimension and angle of the heel, it seems appropriate to the 1780s. The length of 8 1/4 inches corresponds to a women's size 4.5 or 5 (USA) today.
Object Number: 1843.13.0a,b
All images courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society

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