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Boots & Blades: nineteenth century model marks and fashions

The launch of our subsequent digital exhibition, Boots & Blades: The Story of Canadian Determine Skating, is developing within the New Yr, so the analysis into skates continues. On this weblog, I’ll check out a number of of the fascinating makes and fashions of blades that we now have been studying about.

One of many earliest skates with producer’s marks within the assortment are the three pairs proven on this weblog put up.

The English Membership skates with blades rounded as much as the foot mattress within the entrance and within the again, are marked “Moulson Brothers Union Works Sheffield”. Understanding the title of the producer allowed us to seek out out in regards to the firm and the dates it was in operation. It was based within the early 1830s by 5 brothers and was reportedly bankrupt by 1875. Household descendants fashioned Moulson Bros & Co. sooner or later within the 1870s. For this pair of skates, realizing the date vary of the corporate additionally helped us estimate a date of manufacturing for the skates.

Skates manufactured by the Moulson Brothers in Sheffield, England. Assortment of the Bata Shoe Museum. Picture © 2021 Bata Shoe Museum.

The same pair of strap-on skates are the Membership skates marked “H. Boker”. The blade silhouette on this pair exhibits a extra developed design within the heel profile. We estimate this pair to have been made between the years 1837 and 1870. The corporate, H. Boker and Co., was based in 1837 by Hermann Boker in New York Metropolis, which was a {hardware} manufacturing agency affiliated together with his brother Heinrich who had his personal firm in Germany, referred to as H. R. Boker. As an apart, it’s fascinating to notice that the youngest Boker brother based a department of the corporate in Canada at about the identical time. The Boker firms specialised within the manufacture of sabers, knives, instruments and cutlery, a specialization in to which skate blades suits fairly effectively.

The model mark of the corporate is called the ‘tree’ emblem, which was launched in 1870. Because the ‘tree’ mark shouldn’t be on the blades we now have within the assortment, we all know they have been manufactured previous to 1870. The analysis has aided us in narrowing down the potential date of manufacture to be between 1837 and 1870.

Skates manufactured by H. Boker of New York. Assortment of the Bata Shoe Museum. Picture © 2021 Bata Shoe Museum.

The ultimate pair of membership skates have a metallic stress clamp system as a substitute of the leather-based strap and buckle attachment that a lot of the skates as much as this date have. The leather-based strap system was arduous to tighten and so the skater’s boots and the connected blades have been typically not transferring in unison. That made it arduous to skate. The metallic stress clamp system on this pair are possible an innovation that sought to unravel the issue. Manufactured by “Hill, Late Coleman” at “4 Haymarket London”, we will confirm that these are English in origin and the historical past of the corporate exhibits it existed from about 1855 till the early twentieth century. They have been knife and blade makers, who additionally offered outside tools at that handle, together with compasses, barb wire nippers and folding axes. The corporate was run by the unique proprietor with out his son from 1855 to 1870, and at that time the corporate title modified to ‘Hill & Son’.

Skates manufactured by ‘Hill, Late Coleman’ at ‘4 Haymarket London’. Assortment of the Bata Shoe Museum. Picture © 2021 Bata Shoe Museum.

This historical past informs us that this pair of skates have been manufactured between 1855 and 1870.

Suzanne Petersen, Collections Supervisor

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