« PreviousContinue »
subject, and will, to the best of my ability, say a few words to the ladies respecting boots and shoes of the present day. I am of opinion that the best coverings for the feet are boots; not only do they look neat and tidy, but the general and gradual support they give all over the feet and ankles induces strength and gives tone to the veins and muscles. Shoes, on the contrary, and especially long-quartered ones, require a great effort from the muscles to be kept on, and this, when long applied, tires and weakens. The lace and button boots usually worn need not be described; they are very good and suitable to most feet, and, if cut well and lasted properly, generally give comfort and satisfaction. The trouble, however, of lacing and unlacing, the tag coming off, the button breaking, or the shank hurting, the holes soon wearing out, and many other little annoyances, have all been experienced as bores by thousands who have worn that kind of boot.
About ten years since I first thought of an elastic boot, that might possibly remedy in a great measure all these minor evils, and combine many advantages never possessed by any former boot. am not, however, sure that an elastic boot was not known at a very early period in England.
The following passage from Chaucer seems to favor the idea :
“Of shoon and boot'es new and faire,
How they come on and off again." What this boot could have been, we are now at a loss to know, and unfortunately the paintings and sculptures of antiquity, are not sufficiently clear in these little matters of texture and material, to gain any information : no such boot has, however, been known in our time, or many centuries before.
My first experiments were a failure, as the manufacture of elastic materials was not so perfect as they are al the present period, and the necessary elasticity could not be gained in any material I could meet with. The difficulty was to get an India-rubber web so elastic that the boot would go on and off, and yet not so soft and yielding as that it would not return again to its original form-my object being not only
“That these rude men may utterly
but that they should “sit plain” and “fit fetously” as well after they were on. After several experiments in wire and India-rubber, I succeeded in getting the exact elasticity required, and subsequent improvements in materials and workmanship, have combined to make the elastic boot the most perfect thing of its kind.
I am indebted to the countess of Blessington, and Lady Charlotte Bacon, for some of the earliest hints and suggestions for its improvement; also to Mrs. S. C. Hall, the Baroness de Calabrella, and other ladies of literary fame, who were among
the first to patronise the invention. One of my
earli. est customers, a lady of great originality of thought and expression, first induced me to make it an article of universal sale, by saying :
“ These boots are the comfort of my life, if you were only to give them a sounding name- - if
you like, call them lazy boots and turn it into Greek -all the world will buy them, and you'll make your fortune.”
For many years I have scarcely made any other kind of boots but the elastic; but, I have not
made a fortune. I am happy, however, if in any way I have contributed to the comfort of my fellow-creatures, or been instrumental in affording employment to my own countrymen.
Her majesty has been pleased to honor the invention with the most marked and continued patronage; it has been my privilege for some years to make boots of this kind for her majesty, and no one who reads the court circular, or is acquainted with her majesty's habits of walking and exercise in the open air, can doubt the superior claims of the elastic over every other kind of boots ; it has been well remarked, “the road to health is a footpath.”
The materials for making ladies' boots have been various, the best of course have been those which combine strength with a thin delicate texture; for strong double or cork sole boots, cloth, kerseymere, or cashmere ; for single sole, summer, or dress boots, silk, satin, and an improved prunella, with a twilled silk back, is best.
The neatest, firmest, and the coolest material I have ever used is a silk web, called stocking-net ; this I have had woven in black and colors, and as it readily moulds to the form of the foot, and can be made
without seams, it is a favorite material with her majesty, and the most distinguished ladies
of her court: this boot would appear to be the veritable “boote newe and faire" of old Chaucer's time, so thoroughly light, elastic, and graceful, as it is to
a pretty foot.
The leather best adapted for ladies' boots is morocco or goat-skin, which, when properly dressed, is sufficiently strong and durable— kid being the skin of the young goat, is naturally finer and more delicate; the enamel or varnish leather, commonly called patent, is also very suitable, and being made of calf-skin, is strong. For the little toecaps and golashes of ladies' boots it answers admirably, and as it requires no cleaning, always looks well, and the upper part of the boot is kept clean and tidy. Some ladies, however, can not bear any
leatherthe material best adapted for such is the Pannuscorium, or leather-cloth. This invention has met with
very extensive patronage from a class whose feet require something softer even than the softest leather.
As it resembles the finest leather in appearance, and has many of the best properties of the usual cordovan, and not having like it to be tanned and curried, it does not draw the feet; its peculiar softness and pliability, therefore, at once commend it to the notice of those persons who have corns and tender feet.