LadyBrower

Wooden Shoes

18 posts in this topic

So, I've been assigned to read "World's End" by TC Boyle for my contemporary novel course, and, for those of you who have not read it, it's a crazy book that jumps between time periods including the late-ish 1600's all taking place in the Hudson Vally (NY). They keep mentioning wooden shoes (for some reason those as well as an abundance of strange food obsessions and amputations just keep coming up).

I know that the dutch have been wearing wooden shoes/ clogs since about the 13th century... But I am having trouble finding sources for our era and my area.

I guess my question is does anyone know of any sources about this fabulous footwear pertaining to pirates and peoples in the new york area during the GAoP?

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In my research on soldiers of the GAoP, I have found a few references to (English) soldiers wearing them because they hadn't been supplied with leather shoes from England in such a long time.

From a report recorded on April 20, 1717 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=74005

538. i. Memorial delivered by Mr. Hodges, Judge Advocate of Placentia, to the Duke of Marlborough, Mr. Secretary Stanhope, Mr. Poultney, Secretary at War etc. in Nov., 1715. Col. Moody represents the sufferings of the garrison owing to bad clothing and insufficient provisions, and his efforts to keep them from starvation. Describes his voyage thither in 1713 etc. Prays that the accounts may be made up and provisions and pay sent. He sends a pair of the wooden shoes the soldiers were forced to wear for want of others, etc. Copy. 7½ pp. [C.O. 194, 6. Nos. 31, 31 i.; and 195, 6. pp. 322–341.]

The tone of the reference in my opinion made it seem that it was a great hardship for the soldiers to be wearing wooden shoes rather than leather ones. So I would guess that wooden shoes were something only generally worn by the poorest of the poor....

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(for some reason those as well as an abundance of strange food obsessions and amputations just keep coming up).

For long voyages, food had to be gathered from where ever sailors found themselves - otherwise they starved. Thus they would have probably tried all sorts of strange foodstuffs. They particularly look for types of meat and I have found records of them trying everything from seagulls to penguins to seals to walrus to land animals they cannot even name, but only describe.

Amputations were common at sea because they were easier than extended treatments and the sailor could be gotten back to work fairly quickly...even if he were minus a part. In fact, I have read that the quality of a surgeon was based in part on how fast he could perform and amputation (keep in mind they had no anesthesia during the GAoP). Many could do them in under two minutes - which is quite fast when you consider how involved a good amputation was. (It's a good deal more than just taking a saw and hacking away.)

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... I guess my question is does anyone know of any sources about this fabulous footwear pertaining to pirates and peoples in the new york area during the GAoP?

Greetings M'lady,

I have been searching for the very same information and have found very little. Most of the GAoP information is very "Anglo-centric" and it is my theory that since fashion was well, "in fashion" at the time, discussions about wooden shoes would be on par with a modern fashion magazine article on canvas boat shoes... that is to say, nearly nonexistent.

That said, I believe that much of Northern Europe's common folk were familiar with them and many probably wore them at some point. I have seen some of the old "Bargees" in Rotterdam wearing ancient looking pairs of these things and walking about on deck as if they were in tennis shoes (sneakers here in the Northeast). I can't say that they would be very practical on a rolling deck at sea, but the would be great to take along for once you got on shore... and they float ( which is possibly one of the reasons that they are not found in shipwrecks ;) )

There is positive evidence for their use for centuries before the GAOP, and a stream of evidence right afterward, right through to our present day. They might have gone out of fashion during the time period, but I doubt that they went out of use. Still searching for that hard evidence, though.

BTW: I worked in the Wooden shoe Factory in Holland (Michigan) in the early '90's

Making wooden Shoes

Wiki - Clogs

You can't beat there prices...

Nelis Wearable Clogs

On this page there is also a link to a book on the history of European Wooden Shoes. If it wasn't $70.00, I would by it now.

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Mr. Cutter! It's been too long. The little bit of research that I came up with said that they were common for poor people and farmers in Holland and some people still favor them today in out in the country (I know I would!)

It makes sense that they might be used also by the poor dutch tenant farmers in NY. But I don't want to make any assumptions. lol. They just seem like an interesting thing to add to my kit to do a lower class, local-type impression. And they are cute. lol.

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Didn't the French call their version Sabots? Wooden shoes are a fairly common item in lower classes all through western Europe (including GAoP period) it seems, from various artwork and mentions throughout history. I don't have a catalouge of references as I have never looked specifically for them, but have come across them often in looking for other things. I don't know that I'd try walking a ships deck in them though! ;)

Bo

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Didn't the French call their version Sabots? Wooden shoes are a fairly common item in lower classes all through western Europe (including GAoP period) it seems, from various artwork and mentions throughout history. I don't have a catalouge of references as I have never looked specifically for them, but have come across them often in looking for other things. I don't know that I'd try walking a ships deck in them though! ;)

Bo

That's right Bo!

I remember a really good discussion over on the Frontier Folk.net forum regarding this some time ago (in the Nouvelle France section)... If memory serves me well there were citations posted about the use of wooden shoes and things I generally know as "pattens" which are wooden bottomed footwear with leather uppers (sometimes straps, sometimes almost mule like appearance)... Again going from memory, most of the references in that discussion were from Quebec and from the second half of the 17th century.

As a note, Smoke and Fire Company carry wooden shoes for $28 to $30 (depending on size).

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Didn't the French call their version Sabots? ...

Bo

Oui. And the term Sabotage comes from striking workers jambing machinery with said sabot.

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Didn't the French call their version Sabots? ...

Bo

Oui. And the term Sabotage comes from striking workers jambing machinery with said sabot.

The dutch just clogged the machines. LOL. (Thats not an original joke. I did see in online somewhere. lol)

But yea, I saw them on the Smoke and Fire Co. website, and then they were on the cover of that crazy book, and now I just want a pair to wear in case of Cow invasion. lol. I think I am going to get a pair even if I don't wear them for reenacting. But now I am very interested.

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wooden shoes were worn in Scandinavia by country farmers well into the early 20th century.

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Somehow a picture of a pirate wearing wooden shoes, sneaking up on someone wouldn't work very well.... clomp clomp clomp.

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There is a Hogarth print illustrating what's to be feared from a French invasion, including les dreaded sabots. To the right thinking Englishman sabots were hard and unyielding and unpleasant to wear, so it may be that the use of wooden shoes is determined by the nationality you're portraying.

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Somehow a picture of a pirate wearing wooden shoes, sneaking up on someone wouldn't work very well.... clomp clomp clomp.

Haha. Yea, I suppose. lol. But I am not really playing the pirate, I am a civilian "lady."

As of yet, I'm an Irish girl, but I'm living in the Hudson valley region among the dutch so I thought that might make a difference. Thanks!

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LadyBower,

There was a store in Oostburg, WI called "The Wooden Shoe" that manufactured hand crafted wooden shoes. It's since been gone for the last three years...but I am not sure if there is anyone taking up the business since Old Ben has retired.

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Haha. Yea, I suppose. lol. But I am not really playing the pirate, I am a civilian "lady."

Well, sometime I read somewhere...

An AWI account noting the wooden shoes on civilians, women mostly.

Now, where was that?

My research gives me to understand that wooden shoes were the "Crocs" of the time.

Edited by Quartermaster James

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Well, sometime I read somewhere...

An AWI account noting the wooden shoes on civilians, women mostly.

Now, where was that?

If you find it, let me know. =) That would be great.

My research gives me to understand that wooden shoes were the "Crocs" of the time.

I figure that's sort of how I'd be wearing them, for "working" or to slip on in the middle of the night, sort of like slippers. I have my lovely fugawee's, so it would be nice to have something else to get messy, if my feet just need a break or I want to do a more lower class impression for some reason. (I'm all about options).

Edited by LadyBrower

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Because leather shoes would rot easily with a water logged ship wooden shoes or wooden clogs were quite common. The word 'Sabatoge' came from a wooden shoe being dropped in machinery to stop it. 'Sabots' is french for 'wooden shoe'.

Sorry no text to back this info up. But maybe its something to check into. Hope it helps.

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If you find it, let me know. =) That would be great.

It was in this thread on the FF board. Look for the post about 2/3 down page 2.

It's an oft asked query. Search the board for "wooden and shoes" and you'll get even more info!

Edited by Quartermaster James

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