Through the Mists of Time...

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Re: The Gallery

#301 Post by dw » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:31 am

fclasse wrote:Thanks for the pointer - I believe that there is evidence for waxed calf in the 16th century, but I'd have to do a bit more digging. And yes, the heels are carved poplar.
Francis,

I'd like to see hard evidence for waxed calf in the 16th or even the 17th century. Not challenging...I'm skeptical but I just don't know.
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Re: The Gallery

#302 Post by fclasse » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:57 pm

DW, I will have to dig for it. I know the old adage of, "I saw it in a book somewhere," but I seem to recall it being on an early 1600s equestrian statute of...someone! I thought it was Henri IV, but the statue of him in La Place du Pont-Neuf was made in 1818. Of course, it could very well be this statue, and I am confusing the dates. Which would mean I might have been correct about the waxed calf, and wrong on the dates. =)

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Last edited by fclasse on Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Gallery

#303 Post by jesselee » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:13 pm

This new forum is 100 times more difficult to use than the original on.

Anyways. I don't know when waxed leather was used and am not a medievalist, but I have seen medieval cups and jugs made of waxed leather in museums, so it follow that shoe makers would have used it for their shoes and boots.

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Re: The Gallery

#304 Post by dw » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:20 pm

jesselee wrote:This new forum is 100 times more difficult to use than the original on.

Anyways. I don't know when waxed leather was used and am not a medievalist, but I have seen medieval cups and jugs made of waxed leather in museums, so it follow that shoe makers would have used it for their shoes and boots.

Sorry you don't like it. You're actually the first person who has said anything less than positively glowing. Regardless, the old forum is gone, done. [Parenthetically, most forums today share code, function and appearance with the underlying software here.]

I am not an historian...I know just enough to get me in trouble. But...and again, I may be mistaken...I seem to remember reading that jugs such as you describe were coated with pitch to seal them and make them waterproof. Which is, AFAIK, an entirely different process than making waxed calf (and once upon a time I followed, as close as possible, a recipe for making waxed calf provided to me by Al Saguto...ending up with a better than average facsimile).
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Re: The Gallery

#305 Post by dw » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:47 am

Francis,

Thanks for the links, etc.. But weren't we talking about "waxed calf"? I wish Al would weigh in here...but AFAIK "waxed calf" is something very specific--a specific process with a specific outcome.

Just because a leather is described as "waxed" doesn't make it "waxed calf" in the leatherworking/shoemaking sense.

The way I understand it, "waxed calf' was done on very specific East (?) India vegetable tanned Kips. The flesh side of the leather was stuffed with a "hot" mixture of lanolin, whale/cod oil and bees wax--literally until it would hold no more. Then the leather was stored...usually somewhere gently warm...for up to a year.

The fleshside of the leather was then "scrubbed" with a soap not too dissimilar to Fels Naptha so that the surplus surface "wax" would be broken/removed. The soap was mixed with lamp black, if I recall correctly, which effectively dyed the leather.

Then, after the boots/shoes were cut and assembled...fleshside out...a "sizing" (?) of something very like wallpaper paste was applied and the surface burnished to a brilliant high shine.

That's a very simplified recipe that was passed onto me by Al Saguto (I'm sure he'll correct my mistakes) and the one I followed when I was trying to make my own.

You can buy waxed calf (sic) (not the real stuff, IOW) today. But the term is used more for marketing than to denote any connection with the real and justifiably famous waxed calf and the leather is just chrome tanned stuffed with oils. Some makers of "historical" footwear simply turn a hide (usually chrome-tanned) fleshside out and apply shoe polish to the fibers. Even Horween's Chrome-Excel is not really waxed calf. It's produced for a fleshside application but the flesh is lacquered rather than going through anything close to the original process. Or result.

Again, I'm not an historian and I don't mean to criticize or undermine your sources but the term "Waxed calf" has always been represented to me as a very specific process.

Still wondering...
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Re: The Gallery

#306 Post by fclasse » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:25 am

dw wrote:"Waxed calf" has always been represented to me as a very specific process.
Still wondering...
We have to give ourselves a little context here - most boots and shoes of the time period were made in light to medium-light leather, usually calf, whereas the outsoles were made of cow hide. Taking that into account, when the sources talk about the leather being waxed (whatever that may mean), then what do we have...waxed calf? =)

Now, conventions of terminology aside, I agree completely that it is likely that the waxed calf of the 16th century is not precisely the "waxed calf" (note the quotations) of the 18th century that you describe above. And, certainly, I am not trying to argue otherwise based on such scant information. But, I do not think we should eliminate the possibility outright, or that they might have had some similar kind of material. Cordovan leather typically came from Spain (the name comes from Cordoba, as I understand), and in both England and Italy, Spanish leather was well prized for its quality. Moreover, there is nothing in the "waxing" process that you described that would have been impossible for the tanners of the 16th century. They might have used tallow instead of cod oil or had variations on storage and treatment, but the result could very well have been a supple, well curried hide used for high quality shoes and boots. Lastly, at the time that the extant sources are writing, it is unlikely that "waxed calf" material sprang "fully-formed" from the minds of the late 18th century shoemakers and/or tanners.

Clearly, more research is needed, but that tends to cut into valuable shoemaking time =)


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Re: The Gallery

#307 Post by dw » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:14 pm

First, it is like the controversy between "turning an edge" and "folding". "Folding" is the proper terminology. I got taken to task...and rightfully so...for using "turning" some time ago. It may seem trivial to some but I learned a valuable lesson.

To the extent that we make up/invent new or ignore proper terminology, we contribute to the decline of the Trade--the meat of it. For the simple reason that it is our shared vocabulary and when we can no longer communicate succinctly and easily about shoemaking, we can no longer pass it on.

The other point is...what, specifically, does "waxed" mean to you, or the sources you quoted?

People today use the term "waxed calf" without any reference to a common lexicon or to what is meant when a shoemaker says "waxed calf". Makers today use the term with little or no regard for how it was originally or Traditionally used. Marketeers use the term to further their own agendas. Similarly, "handmade"...what does that mean, these days?.

At a certain point, when the lexicon become that mutable, every meaning become so degraded as to almost be meaningless.

Perhaps your sources are suggesting that waxing/polishing itself was hitherto unheard of prior to these shoes/boots? Perhaps. Who knows?

The one thing I have learned from hanging with historians, however, is that we cannot suppose...esp. in the absence of proof. We cannot impose our interpretations or our wishful thinkings either. Without a definitive explanation of what was meant by waxed calf in the 16th century, the only rational explanation...the only definition that will stand up to the light of day...is simply that the leather had wax applied to it. Occam's Razor.

If that definition satisfies your intent then I apologize for ever raising the issue...but it's still not waxed calf as I know it.

All that said, I could be wrong...I was just looking for some hard evidence.
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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#308 Post by das » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:46 am

Weighing-in, as DW calls it, but not sure how much help I can be. If the 16thc Italian text translated as "waxed" (leather), it doesn't necessarily translate as Wax(ed) Calf as per British usage 18thc and later You can put "wax" on any leather IOW.

Wax(ed) Calf (mostly kip BTW), AKA "wax leather", the English stuff (whence US) was black, finished on the flesh, more utilitarian and durable than grain leather. With the grain inward, it obviated any need for lining, and skuffs on the flesh could be burnished right out). Being curried (w/ oxidizing cod oil, etc.) it enjoyed tanning, plus oil-dressing--either treatment alone, on their own, were used to produce good leather, so Wax(ed) Calf was double-treated so to speak. The description DW gave is pretty close, based on19thc receipts.

Off the top of my head I'm not sure one would find this sort of Wax(ed) Calf much before the mid-17thc, when heavier black boots became more popular than lighter colored, "doeskin", etc. soft boots. Certainly from c.1660 through the 1870s, Wax(ed) Calf was the predominant uppers leather for men's boots and shoes UK/US, and English Wax(ed) Calf was "the best", like English boots, coveted everywhere.

Why? Prior to The Great Leather Act of 1603 (adopted in US in the later 1600s through the 1770s), which forbade UK shoemakers currying or finished their own uppers, a tradition of specialization ensued--curriers who only made Waxed Calf, and getting damn good at it. French boot and shoemakers it seems were not forbidden to oil, "curry", and finish their own uppers (see 'AotS').

In all events, "waxed" in 16thc Italian doesn't equate to Wax(ed) Calf in later English usage, and unless the leather was black and finished on the flesh (hard to tell from a statue), probably apples and oranges IMO.

The new Forum is taking some getting used to. My biggest issue are all the flashing dancing bananas, etc. blinking to my left as I'm trying to write. Any way to turn them off? Or can I compose in Explorer, and cut and paste like before?

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#309 Post by dw » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:07 am

Al,

Thanks for that. Very useful.
das wrote:The new Forum is taking some getting used to. My biggest issue are all the flashing dancing bananas, etc. blinking to my left as I'm trying to write. Any way to turn them off? Or can I compose in Explorer, and cut and paste like before?
You can compose in Wordpad (which is a word processing applet that is included as an accessory in every copy of Windows) or in your email program or in your word processing program and cut and paste just as before.

There is no way to turn off the animation on the smilies...I can "hide" all but a few, but it will make accessing them much harder. One of the things that always annoyed me about the old forum was having to drill down through layer after layer to do anything.

I suspect that once you get used to them...and are no longer fascinated by their eccentricities...you won't notice them anymore.
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Re: The Gallery

#310 Post by fclasse » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:21 pm

dw wrote:The other point is...what, specifically, does "waxed" mean to you, or the sources you quoted?
.....
If that definition satisfies your intent then I apologize for ever raising the issue...but it's still not waxed calf as I know it.
It's always useful to have a fruitful discussion - I know that I have learned a few things that I did not know before, so I call it a win. =) I think we're saying the same thing, namely that there is no evidence that the "waxed" leather of the 16th century is anything like the "wax(ed) calf" that was well curried and tanned that has been already described. Going through the records of the wardrobe and seeing what colors the 16th C. "waxed" leather boots were might give some insight, and I may do that and report later. My guess will be, though, that there will be multiple colors, making it even more clear that they are likely two different leather treatments, as the 17th-18th C. stuff was all black.


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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#311 Post by farmerfalconer » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:09 pm

A coworker at Old Salem was recently reading through the 1785 inventory of the Single Brothers House Shoeshop. In it were listed 6 pair of "draw legs" (this is the modern english translation of the 18th. c. german). They were quite expensive, costing roughly as much as a pair of boots! Does anyone have any idea what these might be?

Cheers,
Cody

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#312 Post by das » Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:57 am

Cody,

"draw legs" were pre-cut, pre-curried boot legs imported from England for fashionable close fitting top boots, in German I thunk it was "zug" (draw) leder" (leather). Rees [1813] discuses these, how they were measured for elasticity, and how they were curried by some special process to make them elastic. A pretty common article in 18thc Virginia, both "draw legs" and "draw boots".

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#313 Post by farmerfalconer » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:37 am

Hi Al,
Thanks! I figured you would have the answer. I have to admit we are a bit behind at OS with our knowledge :brickwall:
but hopefully that will be remedied in a few weeks! :wink_smile:

Cody

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#314 Post by brooklyn_edie » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:36 pm

Hope this is the proper area for the following. My apologies if this should be elsewhere.

I recently heard a radio program which featured Patricia T. O’Conner, a journalist and writer who is passionate about language - English in particular, I assume. I enjoyed the examples sited on the show... words used in past, but often lost to us today, or their meanings have been altered through time. I sent her an email and was pleased to get a prompt reply. With her permission, I am providing the link which you may look at when taking a break from waining your cords!

Enjoy (I hope)

A cordwainer by any other name:
http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2014/ ... ainer.html

Edie

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#315 Post by dw » Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:33 am

brooklyn_edie wrote:Hope this is the proper area for the following. My apologies if this should be elsewhere.

I recently heard a radio program which featured Patricia T. O’Conner, a journalist and writer who is passionate about language - English in particular, I assume. I enjoyed the examples sited on the show... words used in past, but often lost to us today, or their meanings have been altered through time. I sent her an email and was pleased to get a prompt reply. With her permission, I am providing the link which you may look at when taking a break from waining your cords!

Enjoy (I hope)

A cordwainer by any other name:
http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2014/ ... ainer.html

Edie
I love that website/blog! Thanks for that.
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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#316 Post by proxy_posting » Mon Mar 10, 2014 4:48 pm

800,000 year old footprints in Europe

The earliest human footprints outside of Africa have been uncovered, on the English coast, by a team of scientists led by Queen Mary University of London, the British Museum and the Natural History Museum.

[Click on link above for the whole story]

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#317 Post by proxy_posting » Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:15 am

1774 Mexican Shoemaker.jpg
1774 Mexican Shoemaker.jpg (56.46 KiB) Viewed 877 times
From Cambujoo and Indian: Tente en el aire. 1774. Painting num. 12. Casta paintings. Mexican school. Colonial baroque. Oil on canvas. SPAIN. MADRID (AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY). Madrid. America's Museum.

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#318 Post by proxy_posting » Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:07 am

Here's a close-up of the photo above...
1774 Mexican Shoemaker_2.jpg

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#319 Post by proxy_posting » Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:08 am

Here’s another one 1763. If someone can translate the caption for us, that would be great.
1774 Mexican Shoemaker_3.jpg
1763

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#320 Post by das » Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:16 am

From the above painting...If anyone can translate, please...

De español y mestiza, castiza

Autor: Cabrera, Miguel
1763
Óleo sobre lienzo
Contexto Cultural/Estilo Escuela mexicana
Procedencia: México (América del Norte)
Dimensiones: Altura = 132 cm; Anchura = 101 cm
Nº Inventario MAM 00006

La pintura de mestizaje, o de castas, constituye una fuente de información de primer orden para acercarse a la vida cotidiana en el Virreinato de la Nueva España en el siglo XVIII. Realizada en series de 16 escenas que muestran grupos familiares constituidos por las diferentes uniones étnicas, responde al afán ilustrado de ordenar y clasificar la estructura social y mostrar una autoimagen de la diversidad sociocultural de la Nueva España.

A juzgar por las cartelas que identifican a los distintos personajes y elementos de la composición, estas obras se destinaban probablemente a un público extranjero.

Este lienzo pertenece, al igual que el anterior, a un conjunto pintado por Miguel Cabrera en 1763 del que el Museo de América conserva seis ejemplares. Se representa a una familia de alto rango social, según puede deducirse de la indumentaria y adornos de los personajes, parada frente a un establecimiento de venta de calzado.

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#321 Post by Habitab » Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:42 pm

The rough Google translation below:


In Spanish and mestizo, castiza

Author: Cabrera, Miguel
1763
Oil on canvas
Cultural Context / Style Mexican School
Hometown: Mexico (North America)
Dimensions: Height = 132 cm; Width = 101 cm
MAM Inventory No. 00006

The painting of mestizaje, or caste, is a source of information for first-order approach to everyday life in the Viceroyalty of New Spain in the eighteenth century. Made series of 16 scenes showing family groups consisting of different ethnic unions, meets the need Illustrated sort and classify the social structure and show a self-image of the sociocultural diversity of New Spain.

Judging by the brackets that identify the different characters and elements of the composition, these works were probably destined for a foreign audience.

This painting belongs, like the above, a painting by Miguel Cabrera in 1763 which set the Museum of America retains six copies. It represents a family of high social rank, as can be inferred from the clothing and ornaments of the characters, standing in front of a retail shoe.

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#322 Post by dw » Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:13 am

I can't say this is as good as Habitab's translation, it too came from an online translation service, but I was asked to post it so...

Between the two I think we get pretty close.

Of Spanish and half-breed, authentic

Author: Cabrera, Miguel
1763
Oil on linen
Context Mexican Cultural/Estilo Escuela
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Dimensions: Height 132 cm; Width 101 cm
Nº Inventario MAM 00006

The painting of crossbreeding, or of castes, constitutes a source of information of the first order to approach the daily life in the Virreinato of the New Spain in the XVIIIth century. Realized in series of 16 scenes that prove to be familiar groups constituted by the different ethnic unions, he answers to the illustrated emulation to order and to classify the corporate structure and to show an autoimage of the sociocultural diversity of the New Spain.

Judging by the cartelas that they identify to the different personages and elements of the composition, these works were destining probably a foreign public.

This canvas belongs, as the previous one, to a set painted by Miguel Cabrera in 1763 of which the Museum of America preserves six copies. There is represented a family of high social status, as it can be deduced of the clothing and adornments of the personages, stop opposite to an establishment of selling of footwear.
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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#323 Post by dw » Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:28 pm

Shoemaker's Chair - Trinity Hall, Aberdeen

website at Seven Trades of Aberdeen
chair.jpg
chair_2.jpg
The chair presented by Alexander Idle, shoemaker, in 1679 (Fig. IV.), has the crown and cutting knife of his craft carved in the back, with his name, "A. Idle, Deacon-Conviner, 30th November, 1679." Idle had a somewhat chequered career. The books of his trade show that at one time he must have carried on a fairly extensive business, but in the end of his days he entered the hospital as a beadman.
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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#324 Post by proxy_posting » Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:05 pm

Interesting page from the Victoria and Albert Museum...

The drinking vessels of shoemakers

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Re: Through the Mists of Time...

#325 Post by das » Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:34 am

Especially for Terry Burris... After my talk on the early 17thc archaeological shoes from Jamestown, Virginia wells, presented at the 31st HCC AGM last Sat, Terry asked about the other stuff found in the wells. Here's one of our videos of a well yielding its goodies. Notice one of the "oystering" soles from my talk recovered part way through with other cool stuff from c1610.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyxWLEbn-3E

Archaeology="revealed truth"

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