Civil War Shoemaking

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kemosabi
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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#151 Post by kemosabi » Wed May 25, 2011 4:18 pm

Internship? Man... It would be nice to learn in person. Pretty much everything I know came from countless hours reading Golding, this forum and any other source I can get my hands on. I've got four young-ens at home still, so I'm not sure if an internship is in the cards at this point, but hopefully someday.

What you're describing about lasts really resonates with me. Fit the foot, not the machine!

On fire? Yep.

tomo

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#152 Post by tomo » Wed May 25, 2011 4:44 pm

Hey Nat, Jesse,
I have some lasts used by a company that made boots for the US cavalry up until 1946. The lasts are similar to an English riding boot last in toe shape and heel height.
I don't know when the boot shape changed to this style. I would imagine it would've been as a result of European influences around the First World War ??
They have a seperate cone piece.

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#153 Post by jesselee » Wed May 25, 2011 5:16 pm

Nat,

The offer is open.

Tom

These would be Spanish American to WWI style. US Cavalry and issue boots had typically 3 changes. 1- M1859 Light Artillery Boot, the commo boot of the CW era. Most were pegged to the contrary of those who insist shoes and boots were stitched. That was the case in the M1851 Jefferson or M1851 US Army Shoe.

Then came the M1872 US Army boot. The first ones were full Wellingtons, the rest had a separate vamp.

Then in 1889 the Cavalry was issued a boot of knobbly grain side leather, separate vamp and counter with a seam up the front and back. This is where a more rounded toe comes in.

Are these lasts for sale?

Cheers,

JesseLee

tomo

Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#154 Post by tomo » Wed May 25, 2011 11:33 pm

Thanks for that Jesse,
No, I bought the lasts for making long riding boots and polo boots. There are 92pr in the range, some gaps but not too bad.
T

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#155 Post by das » Thu May 26, 2011 4:05 am

Jesse & All,

American Civil War constructions--

USA: If all the official correspondence that survives in the US Archives, plus the 1864 Quartermaster Manual are anything to go by, and I kinda think they are, the 1860s Federal "bootees" (infantry ankle boots) and "Cavalry/Artillery" wellington (pull-on) boots were spec'ed in descending order of desirability/acceptability as 1) hand-sewn welted (every detail is in the '64 QM Manual); 2) pegged, and last but not least(?) 3) MacKay sewn. Many letters discussed the difficulty finding enough skilled hand-sewn men to keep up with the Army's war-time demand, hence the very reluctant lowering of standards to pegged and MacKayed. (Jesse, how have you missed seeing all of the hand-sewn welted Federal "bootees" surviving?)

CSA: What I suspect was one standard CSA "pattern" bootee, survives in numbers, from Virginia to Georgia sites, double-row (machine?) pegged, with "shank nails" added, 3 ea. side. One un-worn example still bears the "RCH" Richmond, Virginia arsenal stamp in the top-piece of the heel.

Non-issue, expedient, brought-from-home, imported, etc. footwear for either army is problematical, and there's a lot of it from both sides.

ACW Era lasts--

First, the US Army STOPPED accepting "straights" from contractors in 1851--ten years before the ACW--though old "straight" wellington boots were still lurking in stores, some issued-out as late as 1880s-'90s (one cavalry vet told me years ago). I've only seen 2 surviving US "bootee" lasts from the 1860s, shallow square toes, very flat, straight-sloping, instep cones. Lasts for wellington boots abound, however, with that "hump" in the instep. To my eye most of the repro ACW footwear goes wrong because most use this "hump" wellington boot last for making low "bootees"--looks all wrong. True test is, the surviving Federal "bootee" patterns, or rather uppers made from them, will not pull over the "hump" last, only the flatter "bootee" lasts.

I agree with Jesse, there were some good-fittin' lasts made in the historical past, a choice few are still head and shoulders better than anything made since 1900. And yessiree, last architecture got dumbed-down considerably for ease of machine-lasting, seat-nailing, better shoe "shelf appeal", looks, etc. A lot of this has been chewed over in other threads here, going back for ages, so I'll just sit down now Image

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#156 Post by kemosabi » Thu May 26, 2011 1:35 pm

I've been reading all of these threads related to lasts for the past several months. It's hard to distill all of this information down to the aspects of last design that really matter (which that alone seems a matter of opinion). This is mostly what prompted me to ask the question "what was important to last design during the 1860's thru 1870's" (bearing in mind that machine production hadn't had it's impact on lasts that we see today which I assume also means that lasts were designed for feet vs. machines).

IOW: if it was possible to erase the impact of machine manufacturing on last design and only focus on anatomically correct shape, also providing for correct draft and leather movement (flex) in the finished product; What would these lasts look like? Munson maybe? Seems like his quest and mine are similar as he too was disillusioned about anatomically incorrect last shape.

Form follows fit/function... so to speak.

Any thoughts?

For example: I've already modified my own lasts to have curve (pocket) at the base of the heel. Made a big difference in how they fit and feel.

I realize most of my question is probably covered in the other last threads, but I'm having a hard time seeing the answers through the noise. It's like drinking from a fire-hose, so your patience in helping me see the light is much appreciated.

Regards,
-Nat

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#157 Post by das » Fri May 27, 2011 3:44 am

Nat,

Yup, it's a lot like drinking from a fire-hose or geyser around here, but that's half the fun.

I'm moving my reply over to Lasts, since it's no longer to do with Civil War.

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#158 Post by jesselee » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:19 pm

Al,

I have seen some welt sewn CW period shoes and boots and in fact owned a pair of nice boots, welt sewn, Russian leather top linings. But most of what I have seen were pegged, then McKay (Blake) stitched and finally welt stitched. In between this was an array of iron nailed soled boots and shoes.

The Confederate States Army did indeed have patterned shoes. I'll try and find some sources. I do know that Asheville, North Carolina had factories which made shoes for the CSA.

What is notable here is a high ankle bootee with eyelets and the soles were both Pegged and welt stitched 'with a chain-stitch'! They are beautiful and very high quality. What is interesting is that only the ball to ball area is stitched. The arch was just pegged. being similar to how DW and others make their shoes.

Typical British lasts of the period were as you described, sloping up to the instep and almost squarish or boxed in shape.

Many people don't have the historical information to identify mid-late 19th century boots and shoes. For instance, the boots we see for sale either new old stock or worn with the strip stitched over the side seam from the bottom to about 4-5 inches high (you can see the stitches of the strip on either side of the side seam, is NOT Civil War, but patented in the 1870's.

As for humped lasts. These can be observed in boots from as far back as the 1820's and there were some Civil War boots and shoes made with the humped instep last. I have several pairs and one is labled with the gents name and the CW era date.

However, the more straight sloped last is easier to pull an upper over, and by comparison using the same pattern and a sloped and a humped instep last, one can see the time difference. Thus I feel these sloped lasts were more practical and easier to work with.

Cheers,

JesseLee

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#159 Post by jesselee » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:55 pm

Al, Nat, anyone interested,

Here is some information on Quartermaster issued CSA bootees.

http://www.mcpheetersantiquemilitaria.com/01_identified_items/01_item_019.htm

Cheers,

JesseLee

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#160 Post by kemosabi » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:13 am

That's quite a story. The description indicates the shoes maybe were never worn, but ink on the soles looks like they were... at least briefly, since the ink fades towards the tread line.

I've seen this phenomenon on my own boots where the ink fades and eventually disappears wherever the sole touches the ground.

This place has some interesting old Colts too!

Good stuff.

-Nat

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#161 Post by kemosabi » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:14 am

Do you agree with the description that these were built on straight lasts?

Photo of the soles sure looks like definite right/left. (Left boot in top photo, right in the bottom photo.)



(Message edited by Kemosabi on June 10, 2011)

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#162 Post by jesselee » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:48 pm

Nat,
Yup they are great old shoes. I will be copying them exacly. Working on the lasts now. No, they are not straight lasted, the foot of the sole is straight, but definately matched lasts.
The soles wear like mine as well with the ink coming off where they were worn. Gotta love them old Colts!

Cheers,

JesseLee

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#163 Post by das » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:13 am

Jesse,

I'm getting corn-fuzzled here. Are we talking ACW Federal "issue" footwear, or generic 1860s footwear as possibly worn by troops, IOW non-issue. The GI bootees are spec'ed out in the QM manual, but other weird and wonderful footwear was worn by soldiers of course.

Being my "local" AWC arsenal, the Richmond, Virginia one got very interesting after I acquired several tools from a guy named Beasley who worked there before-during the war (tools U.S. surcharged with Mex-War size stamps), and then I found the un-worn pegged bootee stamped "RCH" (Richmond) on the heel, and several more examples of the same pattern found in a well in Williamsburg, plus one from Ft. Macalister, Georgia.

Somebody needs to do the research on all the various 1860s military shoe manufacturers in the CSA states, including the former U.S. arsenals mading shoes, that fell into CSA hands. Do you know the name of the Asheville, NC factory?

My point on the "hump" last was, these were intended for tall pull-on boots, not open tab laced, ankle-high bootees/brogans. Reenactor repro bootees/brogans made on them just look all "wrong" IMO

And, besides being more practical and easier to last on, uppers made from the 1860s antique US mil uppers patterns just drop right on the proper sloped bootee lasts, you don't have to fight them to get them lasted, like trying to pull them over a "hump" boot last.

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#164 Post by das » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:24 am

Jesse,

Those "vet" bootees look suspiciously like 1870-80s telegraph lineman's boots, and un-worn--at least the vamp's not creased and there's no wear on the bottoms. They might have been "owned" by a ACW vet, but they look mighty post-war to my eye. Definitely machine pegged, machine closed(?), and I've not seen enameled metal eyelets of that configuration on war-time US/CS production bootees, except English "blockade run" examples, nor those side-seam rivets on ACW military uppers except for "Negro troops". The row of machine stitching around the forepart looks decidedly post-war to me as well, and the fancy bottom finishing is way too nice for war-time "hardship" production.

Tell me why exactly you're sure they're 1860s?

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#165 Post by tmattimore » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:34 am

An easy one to date. In 1861 Lyman Blake suffered some kind of medical problem and went to Virginia to recuperate. At that time his machine could not sew across the toe. When war became imminent he returned to Mass. and perfected the the pinion, whirl and horn. The Mckay co. then manufactured some 100 machines the majority went to Seth Bryant a womens shoe maker in Boston who suppled shoes to the war dept. The Mackay co. never sold a single machine they were only let out on lease. No machines were sold or leased in the south. Some machines were exported to the U.K. but I do not belive until the end of the war. This shoe is mackay sewn.
See Lyman Blakes deposition U.S. patent case #20,775 1872

(Message edited by tmattimore on June 13, 2011)

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#166 Post by das » Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:17 am

Tom,

Brilliant! Yes... "what he said" Image

The Smithsonian Museum of American History, Division of Armed Forces History, has one (the only one I've ever seen) MacKay-sewn soles Federal "issue" bootee. They're a huge size "custom" made pair of bootees for a particular Yankee soldier who died before he got them. Where the 1864 QM Manual begrudgingly accepted pegged as a late-war contingency (hand-sewn men were in short supply), and lastly, "machine sewn" (with double rows for every single row of hand-stitching), the Smithsonian bootee has a multiple rows of MacKay chain-stitching covering the sole, as well as the original little paper "lease stamp" stuck to the heel.

Obviously the Smithsonian Federal bootee post-dated the MacKay's ability to sew across the toe, but what date was that improvement, do we know?

You sure the boot photo'd in that auction is MacKay'ed? It looked like lock-stitching, not chain, but I didn't zoom in to look after seeing the rivets and enameled eyelets. If it's lock-stitched in the soles, it's Goodyear era--post ACW, end of story.

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#167 Post by tmattimore » Mon Jun 13, 2011 10:33 am

The last photo on the page looks like a nice tight chain stitch. Blake had to have done it between 61 and 63 when Mckay and Bryant went to see Stanton in D.C. Bryant gives a breif account of the meeting in "100 years of shoemaking"
Also don't go by eyelets alone. When the grave on the Glorietta battlefied was opened one of the shoes was a welted (spec type) brogan with with metal eylets. That was in 1862. I was there when it was excavated. The University of N.M has a monograph on the dig but I forget the name of it.

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#168 Post by das » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:19 am

Tom,

Cool. Thanks. Have Bryant's '100 Years...'.

On the Glorietta welted bootee, were the metal eyelets "big", "modern" ones like the auction bootee Jesse posted? English "blockade run" bootees ('Arabia'? or "Modern Greece'? can't remember which) had basically just short bits of brass tubing in the lace holes, flared-open a bit on each end to hold--not quite as elaborately formed as the modern eyelets.

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#169 Post by tmattimore » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:30 pm

They were brass but with a very small turn over.

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#170 Post by das » Sat Jun 18, 2011 5:26 am

All,

Here's an interesting flea market-find a friend just sent photos of. At first I guessed they might be Span-Am. or War-WWI era, not US because of the metal heel rim/binding (as in UK), vs. heel plate, and fluted hobnails. But the more I looked at that metal galosh clasp stuck on the lace tabs, the pegging, etc., the more I wondered.

Any of you 19thc guys have any opnions?
13750.jpg

13749.jpg

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#171 Post by tmattimore » Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:34 am

Got me, the heel plate is a complete box that I have never seen before. The hobs look like DB Gurneys grooved head nails but they have been around since 1825. Looks like they were sewn on a machine with bad bottom tension.
Sure is a puzzler
Tom

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#172 Post by dearbone » Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:58 am

Al,I have a couple old boxes of the hobnails used on the boot above,the closer i look,they are identical to them,these ones are made in Canada by STELCO, A steel company since 1866.

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#173 Post by dearbone » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:41 pm

The rivet might not have been part of the original from the maker but a work of a repairman later when the thread broke as is seen from the picture, just a thought.

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#174 Post by jesselee » Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:18 pm

Bit of a puzzler here. As Tom states, the machine stitching has bad tension and is a lock stitch. Stitched with a badly tuned harness machine I would gues. Most lockstitch CWsewing was about a 3 cord linen with a finer stitch. I have some hobs like those also, and from the 30's-40's so that company made them a long time. Deffinately machine pegged. Rivets were not unheard of in CW shoes and boots, both the type seen on cap boxes and the early form of split rivet which that is. Undyed suggests non CW, or they were never finished (many were dyed and waxed after the fact, but that was mostly in the Confederate shops. The US Army used already waxed and dyed leather. My best guess is that they are Scottish 'brogue'. I have seen and examined old Scottish photos from the Pre CW, CW and post CW era, and that style (like the M1851) was very common. Still, a nice collectors piece.

Cheers,

JesseLee

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Re: Civil War Shoemaking

#175 Post by das » Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:57 am

Tom,

That iron band around the outside of the top of the heel is similar to the Brit "rims" used in the 1850s on their "universal pattern" Army boot, which was why I thought "European?" at first. The leather has that reddish cast, like cheap US hemlock-tanned--it's the wrong color for UK or Euro oak-tanned, at least in the photo..

Jesse,

Good try, but I doubt they are "Scottish" or UK, because the Brits never went in for pegging in any big way--mostly for fishermen's and sea boots. They fell in love, instead, with "riveted" construction (nailed-on soles) for heavy work. The toe shape, too, looks decidedly American if I stare at it long enough.

Possibly an after-thought or adaptation, that iron galosh clasp added for closure was seen on UK clogs late 1800s-1900s, but also in the US.

Such shoes for "the Southern trade", or "Negro shoes" for slaves were typically russet un-dyed, and the side rivet was added to US military bootees, first, for "Negro troops", but the machine stitching suggests a likely date after emancipation, so back to square one.

I think the owner is local, so maybe I can get to examine them for additional clues.

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