Very rare overshoes or galoshes, ca. 1792. Origin: probably England. The galoshes have toe caps made of Japanese leather and wire loops covered with kids leather. These were pulled over the small "Italian heel".
Japanese leather was an early form of patent leather, which came into use around 1790 due to its water-repellent properties. One side of the leather was treated with black lacquer or oil to obtain a high-gloss surface that was impermeable to humidity. In 1785 Alexander Gillies applied for a British patent for round wire galoshes consisting of toe caps, with front soles and wire loops covered with kids leather, into which the heel was hooked.
Overshoes of this type became fashionable after London's paved streets were created for ladies to walk on. The hobby of walking became a widespread sport known as "pedestrianism". To protect the shoes with thin soles from humidity, ladies wore such overshoes.
This pair is excellently preserved. Museum quality. We have found overshoes of this kind only in specialized books - and in museums. The decoration is not included.
We found similar overshoes in a book of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London: Lucy Pratt & Linda Woolley - Shoes.