Probably 1870s – 1890s
Provenance: made and/or worn in the USA
Label: no marks
A pair of “Lancashire” style clogs sized for a young child. Wooden soles with iron rails, leather uppers with rough side out, one half of a copper alloy clasp remaining, scalloped copper alloy toe caps. Foot-bed of unfinished wood.
These shoes show no use wear, although they may have been worn to a small extent. There is some storage wear around the latchet holes. The leather is pressed flat there, indicating that the clasps were on the shoes for a while.
These shoes appear to have been assembled by hand, and most components appear handmade. The wooden soles were shaped by hand. The leather uppers were stitched together, then tacked to the sole with a thin strip of leather between the nails and the upper. The nails around the toe and ball of foot are made in a copper alloy with domed heads, closely spaced. The nails around the sides and heel of the foot are iron with flat round heads. The clasp was probably stamped by machine. The iron rails may be machine made, but hand-shaped.
Wooden-soled, leather-topped clogs such as these were used for their practicality – the wood is said to keep feet warm and drier in cool, damp places, and the simple materials and construction of the clogs made repair easy. These shoes are said to have been worn by children and adults working in factories or mines. That being said, many for sale today are sized for infants much too young to work. This suggests that these clogs were also a type; a style sometimes worn regardless of its functionality. A similar modern phenomenon would be work boots sized for infants, such as these.
Lancashire clogs appear to have been named after Lancashire, England, but the style of shoe was also worn in America. In England a culture sprang up around these shoes, including a specific kind of dancing.
Links and Further Reading:
The Bata Shoe Museum’s podcast on their pair of Lancashire Clogs. The website of a craftsman making clogs, with images, videos and even a page where you can buy your own. A website about England’s clog traditions. A website noting the use of wooden-soled, leather-topped shoes during the American Civil War. A pair of clogs misidentified as ‘pilgrim shoes’, with a possible British provenance. A pair of similar clogs, possibly dating from the early 18th century. Small pairs of clogs with a different latchet configurations, here, here, and here.