Stilt shoes for February days in Quiver magazine

Crop of the frontispiece from the February 1914 Quiver-magazine. The William Morris poem is illustrated by EA Overnell

Crop of the frontispiece from the February 1914 Quiver magazine. The William Morris poem is illustrated by EA Overnell

This illustration for the title page of a 1914 issue of Quiver magazine hails February days by citing an 1871 poem by William Morris, leader of the Arts and Crafts movement:

February days and now at last, might you have thought that winter’s woe was past!

The illustration by EA Overnell (the wife or a relative of TJ Overnell?) looks straightforward enough, but take a look at the woman’s shoes – she is wearing tiny stilts!

quiver-magazine-1914-february-shoe-stilts.jpeg

A good idea no doubt, but did such things ever exist?

The Quiver was founded as a weekly in 1861 and only closed in 1926. It was the brainchild of John Cassell, who was an Evangelicalist and proponent of the Temperance movement. The magazine aimed itself at a middle-class audience and took a very religious line, though this softened over the years, particularly after it switched to a monthly format, and again after Cassell’s death in 1865.

No sooner had I written this post …

… than Dr Patricia Thomas of Massey University in New Zealand sent me an email showing that these mini stilt shoes really did exist! She supplied a link from Google Books to All About Shoes: Footwear through the Ages. The book, published by Bata Limited, is linked to the company’s shoe museum in Toronto, with its displays covering 4,500 years ‘ranging from Chinese bound-foot shoes and ancient Egyptian sandals to chestnut-crushing clogs and glamorous platforms’.

There, on page 49, is what looks like one of the shoes on stilts that EA Overnell  snuck on to that Quiver magazine page in 1914! Also, on the opposite page of the double spread entitled ‘High & dry’ about shoes offering protection from elements, is a caption showing that the idea of metal hoop platforms goes back at least to the 1820s in Nova Scotia.

shoes-on-stilts-just-like-in-Quiver-magazine-of-1914.png


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design


 

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