A Foot in the Past analyses how footwear was consumed, retailed and produced in the eighteenth century. How many shoes were consumed? Who wore them? And what did the wearing of shoes mean in a society where part of the population walked barefoot? The book replies to such questions by showing how the increasing availability of boots, shoes and slippers in the eighteenth century was matched by profound changes in the way footwear was sold by shoe sellers and purchased
by customers. By the mid-eighteenth century large shops provided a wide array of types, sizes and shapes of footwear from high-class lustrous boots to cheap shoes with nailed soles. Shoemaking, however, remained during the eighteenth and for most of the nineteenth century one of the most
'traditional' sectors of British and continental economies. The fact that mechanization and industrialization affected boot and shoemaking only after 1850 is not exceptional. The production of most consumer goods remained dominated by small-scale urban manufacturing in which the application of machinery played little part in either increasing productivity or changing the shape and quality of products. This book argues that the social and economic practices in the consumption of footwear are
fundamental for understanding how such garments were produced and sold. Rather than embracing a vision of economic development based on mechanization and industrialization, this book investigates how social and cultural contexts for consumption shaped the way in which consumers' needs were satisfied.
These lines of enquiry are developed through a comparative analysis of British and French histories based upon primary and secondary sources and a wide-ranging survey of the literature on dress and fashion in the eighteenth century.
Volumes 1 to 13 in Pasold Studies in Textile History series may be ordered from www.maney.co.uk
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 338
Weight: 771 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 23 mm
This valuable book is exemplary, illuminating not just the history of shoes between producers and users but also the history of many important economic patterns from the Restoration through to the Victorian period. * Lawrence E. Klein, English Historical Review *
impressive and scholarly study ... it is supported by an outstanding and invaluable range of research resources, with a bibliography running to thirty-eight pages that justifies a purchase on this ground alone. * Penelope Alfrey, Journal of Design History *
This wittily written account of the cultural and economic history of shoes and footware is an imaginative account of the consumerist approach to socio-economic change... it contributes significantly to the debates about British economic development in the early industrial revolution. * Longman-History Today Book of the Year Awards 2007 *