Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Pair of boots

Pair of boots

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1845-1865 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Canvas, with elastic side gussets, and embroidery in wool

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr A. L. B. Ashton

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type

Half-boots (ankle boots) were popular for men from the 1830s right up to the Depression in the 1930s. Most were made of leather, though softer materials were popular for informal wear.

Materials & Making

By the 1850s most boots were mass produced. Some, however, were still partly made at home. Women often embroidered the uppers of boots and slippers for their families as well as for themselves. Patterns for these were readily available, but the results were sometimes gaudy as some of the colours favoured for the embroidery were produced by bright chemical dyes.

Design & Designing

The elastic-sided boot was patented in 1837 by J. Sparkes Hall of 308 Regent Street, London, as a result of experiments made with India rubber cloth. The elasticated side gussets eliminated the need for laces and button fastenings. Instead, the boots could simply be pulled on with the help of the fabric loop positioned at the back of the ankle.

By 1850 techniques for making the elastic gussets had much improved, though the elastic tended to perish after a number of years. It was not until the early 20th century that techniques for using elastic in clothing, underwear and footwear were perfected.

Physical description

Pair of men's elastic sided boots with the uppers hand embroidered

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1845-1865 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Canvas, with elastic side gussets, and embroidery in wool

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed in ink on the sole: 'Mr Cunnis'


Length: 18 cm, Width: 10 cm, Depth: 28 cm

Object history note

RF number is 3333/1936.

Made in Britain. The boots were donated by Mr. Ashton who was an Assistant Keeper in the museum.

Descriptive line

Pair of men's elastic sided boots with the uppers hand embroidered in a floral design, Great Britain, 1845-1865

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Women sometimes embroidered slippers, shoes and boots for their husbands to wear at home. They often copied the patterns from pictures or magazines. The embroidered upper would be given to a shoemaker who attached the sole and heel. [27/03/2003]


Canvas; Elastic; Wool; Leather




Accessories; Footwear; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.