1910s Very Early Keds U.S. Rubber Company Ladies Canvas Sport Boot

Wow. What a find. This is one of the very first Keds shoe made by the U.S. Rubber Company.IMG_1347

Very heavily advertised, this style appears in ads from 1919.

The U.S. Rubber Company was a manufacturer of rubber soles to the footwear manufacturing trade. At the end of WWI they started to manufacture their own line of men’s, women’s and children’s canvas sport shoes.

The 1919 models:
(note the more bulbous toes on the womens’ styles)




Give way to the slightly curvier heel and pointier toes of the 1920 styles:



1920s Ladies Captoe Louis Heel Boot with Miniature Broguing

This style marks the departure from the military heel back to the Louis heel. It is clearly not from the earliest part of the century as it lacks the ultra-pointy toe of that era.


You can see what I call the “half apple shape” to the space between where the breast of the heel hits the floor and where the back of the bottom of the vamp ends. As opposed to the “half heart shape” so common both before this era and post-1940s right on up to today’s sort of “half funnel shape”. The negative space formed by the arch had a nice C shape to it.


1920s Black Velvet and Patent Ladies Wedding Boots – 1923


Inside these beauties is a card stating “My Wedding Boots – 1923″. They are beautifully preserved, having been lovingly stuffed with newspaper from the twenties.IMG_1325I have been told that patent leather gets its distinctive shiny appearance (and propensity to crack!) from the process of painting the surface with resin then baking it. But googling it disputes this theory – seems a Seth Boyden invented the process of applying layers of linseed oil to leather in 1819. Not sure why linseed oil would crack… perhaps the coating and baking of a resinated surface came later and was a precursor to today’s plastic-surfaced patents.

Patent leather is well known as a no-no for dancers. You don’t know embarrassment like the kind you experience when you’re doing a spin in the jam in front of 700 people and your feet stick together sending you crashing to the floor! Yes, been there. We quickly learn the trick of oiling the sides of our shoes after such a calamity and forever eschew patent. Just not worth the risk!