Not currently on display at the V&A

Pair of Ankle Boots

1851 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Ankle boots were introduced in about 1804 as fashionable women's wear. The fashion for square toes lasted from 1825 to the 1870s. These boots are made for the left and right foot. Howwever, until 1900, many women continued to wear straights (shoes which were not shaped to distinguish between left and right so that they could be worn on either foot).

Design & Designing
This pair of boots is almost identical to an image of the elastic-sided boot which is illustrated in the shoe designer/manufacturer J. Sparkes Hall's prospectus for the Great Exhibition of 1851 under the title 'Patent Elastic Articles for the Feet'. The elastic-sided boot was patented by J. Sparkes Hall of No.308 Regent Street in 1837 as a result of experiments made with india rubber cloth. By 1850, techniques for making the elastic gussets had much improved, although the elastic on the examples from the Great Exhibition has now perished.

People
J. Sparkes Hall presented his prototypes for elastic-sided boots to Queen Victoria. In his prospectus he claimed that she 'walks in them daily and thus gives the strongest proof of the value she attaches to the invention'.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Boot
  • Boot
Materials and Techniques
Silk grosgrain, leather, elastic, lined with cotton
Brief Description
Pair of woman's ankle boots of silk grosgrain, possibly made in Great Britain or Germany, 1851
Physical Description
Pair of woman's ankle boots of ivory silk grosgrain (a ribbed silk) with elastic inner side gusset. The toe cap is square in shape and is made from silk. The heels are slightly stacked and the soles are made of leather. The boot reaches to just above the ankle. Inside there is a card heel insert and the insoles are made of kid leather. The boots are lined with glazed cotton and each has a ribbon loop to help in putting them on. A seam runs down the front of the shoe to the toe cap.
Dimensions
  • Heel height: 0.5cm
  • Sole length: 23cm
  • Base of heel to top of gusset height: 13cm
  • Base of heel width: 4.1cm
  • Across toe width: 4.6cm
  • Waisted part of the sole width: 3.5cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 19/01/1999 by sf
Marks and Inscriptions
  • '24' (Inscribed in pencil on the underside of the toe)
  • 'D' (Makers's mark stamped on the underside of the sole)
Gallery Label
British Galleries: SHOES
The exhibiting shoemakers emphasised the variety of styles and novelty of construction of the shoes they showed. The elastic panels of these women's boots eliminated the need for laces and button fastenings and allowed the foot to move more freely. It was claimed that the Queen regularly wore this type of boot. The children's shoes are more traditional in design.(27/03/2003)
Object history
This pair of ankle boots were made for the Great Exhibition of 1851.



Historical significance: From about 1804 ankle boots were introduced for women's fashionable wear and they became increasingly popular as the century progressed. They were made of fragile materials such as ribbed silk although leather ankle boots were also becoming more and more fashionable. Many women protected their boots from the dirt and damp by wearing overshoes known as pattens or clogs. The overshoe was usually flat with a square toe cap to match the shoes and had leather straps for fastening. Ankle boots went out of fashion during the 1880s.

The square toe became popular in about 1825. The fashion for square toes lasted until the 1870s when broad and rounded toes were favoured by both men and women. By the 1880s pointed toes were in fashion
Production
Although this pair of boots was exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851 we cannot be certain of their actual date of manufacture.

In the registered description it states that these boots are possibly German. However the inventory record states that they are English.
Summary
Object Type
Ankle boots were introduced in about 1804 as fashionable women's wear. The fashion for square toes lasted from 1825 to the 1870s. These boots are made for the left and right foot. Howwever, until 1900, many women continued to wear straights (shoes which were not shaped to distinguish between left and right so that they could be worn on either foot).

Design & Designing
This pair of boots is almost identical to an image of the elastic-sided boot which is illustrated in the shoe designer/manufacturer J. Sparkes Hall's prospectus for the Great Exhibition of 1851 under the title 'Patent Elastic Articles for the Feet'. The elastic-sided boot was patented by J. Sparkes Hall of No.308 Regent Street in 1837 as a result of experiments made with india rubber cloth. By 1850, techniques for making the elastic gussets had much improved, although the elastic on the examples from the Great Exhibition has now perished.

People
J. Sparkes Hall presented his prototypes for elastic-sided boots to Queen Victoria. In his prospectus he claimed that she 'walks in them daily and thus gives the strongest proof of the value she attaches to the invention'.
Other Number
AP.550 - Previous number
Collection
Accession Number
T.271&A-1963

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record createdApril 30, 1999
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