Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Unusual Artifacts: An Eighteenth Century Brass Shoe Horn

Shoe Horn
Brass, Eighteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum
I’d have been quite thrilled to find this shoe horn in a box of shoes or with the sewing kit in a hotel room instead of the faux-shell brown things that one gets today. Do people even use shoe horns anymore? Do young people know what shoe horns are or do they just fasten the Velcro on their light-up/rollerblade sneakers and roll away?

This is a sturdy shoe horn! For those who don’t know, a shoe horn is used to ease a person’s feet into shoes. They are named as such because shoe horns were originally made from animal horn. Not this one. This one is brass. Sturdy brass.

We can’t be certain who made this since there’s no manufacturer's mark, but an educated guess leads us to believe that it is likely from Birmingham since we know that locksmiths, button and buckle makers there were using brass before the end of the 17th century. In fact, the first brass foundry was established in Birmingham around 1690 and the town was on its way to being the center of brass manufacturing in England—a position it maintained for quite a long time.

No comments: