Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wealthy Peek Bardwell's Pink Calimanco Baby Shoes, c. 1763

These darling infant or toddler's shoes are of a pink wool calimanco (also spelled calamanco, callimanco) and date to 1763-68. Held in the textile collection at Historic Deerfield, an 1888 note accompanied the shoes, stating that they were from the Root family of Connecticut, worn by Wealthy Peek Bardwell, c. 1763. I am currently seeking information on Wealthy, for these tiny shoes raise more questions then they answer: Who made these charming and carefully detailed shoes? Did she grow to adulthood? Did she marry and have children of her own?



Recently conserved (see link below), the wool fabric indicates significant wear, particularly at the toe. It is highly likely that these American-made (Connecticut?) shoes were made from the remnants of an earlier garment or textile. They incorporate a delicate pink silk ribbon for fastening. The shoes are bound with a lighter linen ribbon. The hand stitched leather sole is sturdy, with a slight heel.





My initial assumption was that these were toddler's shoes due to the well-crafted, layered sole, the leather insole and extensive wear on the toe. However, Wealthy's diminutive shoes are only 3.5 inches in length. By today's measure, this translates roughly to an infant's size one shoe (16, Euro; .5 UK) and would be made for a child 0-9 months - a child who may not have been learning to walk but perhaps spent time twirling in a child minder or crawling.


In addition, while the toes exhibit wear, the soles show very little. No matter how the shoes were worn, they are a rare, fragile survival and have benefited greatly by being in the Historic Deerfield textile collection, which in turn benefits the historically curious.





My thanks to Ned Lazaro, Collections Manager & Associate Curator of Textiles for his assistance.
From Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, MA.

3 comments:

  1. How completely enchanting...My original gut feeling would be that these were worn by someone who could crawl but not walk---So tiny, but wear on the toe. I remember when my kids were babies, their shoes would show toe wear when they were in the crawling period.
    This is why I collect and sell antiques...It's the stories they silently tell us. Endlessly fascinating.

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more - on every point! Thank you for your comments on this post and previous ones as well. Cheers, Kimberly

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