Sunday, 27 May 2018

The following boot was recovered by the team from the wreck of the "Tea Clipper" Gossamer lost on the South Devon Coast in 1868


The boot was assesed by expert "Quita Mould" who wrote the following:

Methodology: The boot was first examined prior to conservation (on 2 July 2013) when it was wet; all relevant dimensions were measured at that time and are those used in the following text unless stated otherwise. The boot was subsequently re-examined following conservation. No information regarding the recovery of the boot was supplied.

Summary: A practical working boot of pegged construction, the boot is of knee height, the leg extending above the calf to lie just below the knee. The construction and style suggest the boot is likely to date to the second half of the 19th century: The Gossamer, a China tea clipper, was wrecked off Prawle Point, Salcombe, Devon in December 1868, so that the suggested date of the boot is compatible with this. Relatively few practical work boots survive (Swann 2001: 271) so it is of some interest.

Catalogue description:

High legged boot, right foot, adult male size

Shoe bottom with square toe, natural tread, wide waist and seat. Separate D-shaped stacked leather heel 32mm (1 ¼ ins.) high comprising three lifts and a top piece. The sole has a single row of wooden pegs around the edge with a row running down the centre of the tread and across the upper waist area. The shoe bottom is attached to the upper but there appears to be a welt around the sole edge; the welt is visible at the toe (appearing like a thick midsole in section). The outer edge of the welt is ‘milled’ apparently by machine. An insole is presumed but cannot be seen. Two rows of wooden pegs (each peg max 3x3mm) are present around the outer edge of the heel top piece with a single row across the breast. A row of twelve flat-headed iron nails (head diameter 7mm) also run around edge of the heel with a single nail at the centre. The waist area of the sole is shaped, having a convex, curving profile. The sole and the top piece of the heel have remains of a black, shiny material on the surface suggesting a deliberately coloured, or pigmented surface treatment. Sole length 295mm, width at toe 60mm, tread 103mm, waist 65mm, seat 68mm

Insole length estimated at c. 285-290mm; estimated Adult 9(43)

High boot leg made in one piece with an integral vamp joining to a pair of small quarters covered by a large counter. The boot leg is joined with a single closed seam at centre back. The pair of small quarters also have a closed back seam, 73mm high (after conservation), stitch length 3mm, and a straight top edge and sloping, butted front seams sewn with whip stitch. The right quarters is now separated from the boot, the left remains in place. The quarters are entirely covered by a large, separate counter, overlapping at the front onto the vamp area for a distance of c. 35mm (after conservation) and sewn with a double (two rows) lapped seam to the boot leg and incorporated into the lasting seam. The counter is attached to the quarters by a vertical row of stitching running c 20mm to either side of the back seam. The boot leg is complete at the back, the front of the top of the boot leg is broken away but the small area of the top edge surviving can be seen to rise upward from the back seam suggesting that the front of the boot leg was higher than the back. Stitching for a large, wide, internal pull strap is present on both sides of the boot leg, the strap being 28mm wide at the base and 25mm at the top.As only the stitching survives it may suggest that the pull straps were of a different material (textile).The boot measures 430mm from top edge of the leg at the back seam to the sole; now c. 410mm to the sole (conserved), 435mm (conserved) including the heel. Leather black (polished) bovine 2.40mm thick cattle hide, with small areas of delamination in places.

Swann, J. 2001History of Footwear in Norway, Sweden and Finland Prehistory to 1950. Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien.

The boot would have looed like this